More Background On Jordan’s Folly

I’ve done more Nexis searching myself and found more background on Eason Jordan and the journalist-targeting issue. To say that this may be Jordan’s favorite talking point is an understatement; I’m beginning to believe that no one has written a major article on the subject without his input. This article comes from the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, published on March 1, 2004 as a straight news item as compared to his Media Notes column. Under the headline “For Reporters in Iraq, Security Gets Personal,” Kurtz reported:

There is a long tradition in the news business that journalists, like Red Cross workers, should be seen as unaligned observers with no weapons or agenda. That tradition is being sorely tested, journalists say, in Iraq, where insurgents routinely *target* Americans in shootings and bombings in an effort to undermine the occupying force. …
Safety is a constant topic of discussion. Several news organizations
have asked the U.S. civilian authority for copies of the daily security updates provided to Western contractors, but the request has not been granted. Others have tried putting curtains in the back of their cars to hide the identities of those inside.
“It’s a very dangerous place,” said Eason Jordan, CNN executive vice president. “It’s more dangerous for people who appear to be Westerners and most dangerous for television people, because they cannot operate in as low a profile way as print journalists.”

Interestingly, another source tells Kurtz that all this targeting over which Jordan frets may be self-inflicted:

Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the hiring of armed guards can “jeopardize the perception” of journalists as “neutral observers.” At a conference in Budapest last fall, she said, European journalists, who generally avoid guns, accused American news organizations of endangering them all by employing armed security in Iraq.
“It’s a very hot issue right now,” Cooper said. “If you hire armed
guards and they get into a gun battle and kill some civilians, how is
that going to feel? Is that justifiable? The fundamental question is: Is it simply too dangerous for our journalists to continue being there?”

Openly carrying weapons in a battle zone does tend to attract the notice of all sides in a war and could explain some of the phenomena of which Jordan complains. I think if I went to Iraq to get into the field for some reporting, I wouldn’t mind having a couple of heavily-armed bestest buddies alongside me, plus a flak jacket or two. But again, that’s part of the nature of modern warfare. For better or worse, wars are not fought by two armies marching across a plain at each other and forming squares, like in the days of Napoleon. Especially in this war, combatants dress in mufti, which results in non-combatant casualties — another reason not to afford unlawful combatants the Geneva POW conventions.
I’ll have more in a few minutes about another group that Jordan has accused of targeting journalists.

Targeting A Consistent Theme For Eason Jordan

CQ reader and new blogger The Baron spent a few shillings out of his own pocket for a Nexis article on Eason Jordan research, and as we dig more and more into Jordan’s public record, the more we find that Jordan seems obsessed with journalist-targeting. The Baron finds an article from USA Today by Marilyn Greene that ran on page 3 of their 10/5/93 edition. Greene wrote about the lack of reporters in strife-torn Mogadishu, and interviewed Jordan as well as the Toronto Star’s Paul Watson. Watson accuses US troops of shooting at him, while Jordan excuses the lack of CNN correspondents in the region to journalist-targeting by combatants:

When U.S. troops landed in Somalia, they were met on the beach by a horde of TV cameras and reporters. When U.S. helicopters were downed Sunday in Somalia, not a single U.S. reporter was in Mogadishu to record the event.
In the 10 months between the arrival and the latest bloodshed, every U.S. media outlet – even ever-present CNN – has pulled out of Mogadishu.
Why? The biggest reason: Reporters and camera crews became targets of
Somalis’ outrage about the hunt for warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
Five journalists have been killed and dozens wounded.
“I can’t count the number of times I’ve been shot at by both Somalis and U.S. troops,” says Paul Watson, correspondent for the Toronto Star, from south Mogadishu. He took dramatic photographs of Somalis dragging the body of a U.S. soldier along Mogadishu’s streets. …
In contrast, CNN has 60 people covering this week’s fighting in Moscow.
“It’s dangerous, but there’s a big difference,” Jordan says. “In Somalia, journalists are targeted. Anything that happens in Moscow is incidental.”

Note that Jordan doesn’t specifically mention who he thinks does the targeting, but that statement along with Watson’s quote leaves the impression that Jordan thinks that all sides target journalists. That may be more Greene’s fault than Jordan’s, of course; she doesn’t appear to have asked Jordan to elaborate on Watson’s allegations. Nor does Watson specifically allege that US troops targeted him as a journalist, or even aimed at him specifically at all.
However, when covering a war, bullets fly all over the place. No one would expect differently, and indeed Jordan continued to have dozens of reporters in the field in Moscow while the shooting went on. The act of pulling reporters out shows that Jordan believed them to have become targets. By whom? Jordan doesn’t say, but based on his comments in Davos, you have to wonder if he hadn’t meant to accuse the Americans as well as the Somalis all along.

Eason Jordan Should Know Better

CQ reader John J. passes along two interesting reports about Eason Jordan’s personal connection to a journalist that actually was targeted and assassinated in the Middle East. The London Telegraph did a human-interest profile on the widow of Danny Pearl, whose capture and beheading by Islamists in Pakistan first showed the world the bigotry, inhumanity, and bloodthirsty nature of the Islamofascist thugs arrayed against the West. The Telegraph updated its readers on the renaissance of Marianne Pearl in October 2004:

It was an extraordinary way to lose a husband – butchered in Pakistan by kidnappers who revelled in their own inhumanity, who filmed their deeds in order to heighten the shock to Western sensibilities. But Mariane is an extraordinary woman. Instead of curling into a shell, as she is convinced Daniel’s assassins hoped she would, she has turned her life into a straightforward declaration of intent: “Terrorists may have destroyed my husband, but they will not have the satisfaction of destroying me.” …
She is 37, but looks younger. As part of not allowing herself to be crushed, she refused to play the quietly grieving widow. After a series of e-mail exchanges and a meeting in Paris, she fell in love again, with Eason Jordan, a CNN executive [emphasis mine — CE].

That report confirms a New York Daily News blurb about the pair published six months earlier. For a man who’s dating the widow of a truly targeted and assassinated reporter, Jordan’s latest accusations appear even more morally bankrupt than before. Jordan’s allegations that the US military targets and assassinated journalists amount to little more than an “everyone is doing it” sort of moral equivalency, the kind Danny Pearl death demonstrates beyond all doubt is false. It diminishes the death of Pearl by Jordan’s claims purportedly showing that it was nothing out of the ordinary. Marianne Pearl can obviously fend for herself, but Jordan’s comments look like an extraordinary betrayal of her dead husband’s legacy, and a diminishment of her gutsy determination to enjoy life despite the singular brutality of Pearl’s death.
Eason Jordan seems to be, in the parlance of older times, a creep.

Michigan Democrats Resist Audit

The Michigan state chair of the Democratic Party called demands from the DNC for an audit of campaign funds a political tactic designed to “tarnish” one of Howard Dean’s main opponents in the race for the DNC chair. Mark Brewer refused to conduct an audit on the $8 million in question:

The DNC has demanded an audit of the state party’s books because its donors want to know where the money went. The request has been turned down, with Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer arguing that an audit is unnecessary.
“We don’t see a need for it. But we’re happy to answer any questions that they may have,” Brewer said. “There was nothing wrong that was done. That’s why there was no need for an audit.”
Brewer said the complaints against him are really an attempt to tarnish the Michigan director of the Kerry-Edwards campaign, Donnie Fowler, in his campaign for DNC chairman.
“It’s my belief that this is nothing more than a smear against Donnie Fowler, and the only reason this is being raised is because he’s become a candidate for DNC chair,” Brewer said. “If this was such an important issue, why did we not hear about it for over two and a half months, until Donnie becomes a serious candidate for DNC chair?”

While Brewer probably has analyzed the demands correctly, he doesn’t have much standing to refuse an audit. In the first place, a post-election audit sounds like a good idea anyway, something each state should do on its own just to verify its assets and liabilities and to ensure that money didn’t walk away. Additionally, reports of irregularities popped up in Michigan during the campaign, if not in the funding, then in the performance of the Michigan campaign. It eked out a narrow victory for Kerry where the party felt he should have cake-walked, especially given the large union and Arab populations in the state.
On the other hand, the Democrats have to ask themselves if they want to alienate the Michigan voters this badly and baldly. The Democrats can hardly afford this kind of internecine warfare after losing three election cycles in a row and finding themselves shut out of power entirely for at least the next two years. Making their own people out to be crooks simply to get Howard Dean elected as DNC chair redefines the term “self-defeating” and takes it to a new level.
Up to this election, Michigan had been a power base for Democrats. If the DNC plans to continue the implication that their state organization there is under the control of crooks, they’d better be proven right, or they will find no one at home in 2006. They have to defend Debbie Stabenow’s Senate seat, which has appeared safe until the DNC went to war with their Michigan subsidiary. Is Howard Dean worth this kind of effort and damage?

When Whiny Wannabes Attack!

The Washington Times carries a story today that simply is too weird to pass without notice. A part owner and “aspiring pop star” in a minor-league (ABA) basketball team from Nashville ran onto the court in the middle of a game last Saturday and ordered the head coach to bench their star player. When the coach refused, she fired her before being carried off the floor in hysterical rage:

The victim was 23-year-old Ashley McElhiney, coach of the minor league American Basketball Association club and the first woman to coach a professional men’s basketball team.
The owner was Sally Anthony, an aspiring pop star who once gave fans at a Rhythm game free copies of her new album. On Saturday, she gave them something else, storming onto the court in the middle of the game to order the coach to bench a new player, Matt Freije.
McElhiney refused. Mrs. Anthony shouted profanities at the coach, then fired her in front of her shocked players. Security guards restrained Mrs. Anthony and escorted her from the building after the game.

The team has since apologized to McElhiney, the team, and its fans, but have not yet addressed McElhiney’s status with the team. She has coached the team to a 17-7 record and has been selected as one of the coaches at the All-Star game, a status that the league announced yesterday would be unaffected by any action taken by the Nashville Rhythm. As if proving what an idiot Anthony was, McElhiney’s team roared back from an 18-point deficit at the time of her outburst to beat the visiting team.
That wasn’t the end of Anthony’s wild ride, however. After hanging around long enough to fire McElhiney again in the locker room, she went home and wound up in the hospital under murky circumstances:

A woman describing herself as Mrs. Anthony’s sister-in-law called paramedics to Mrs. Anthony’s home early Sunday morning, saying she feared Mrs. Anthony had overdosed on Xanax, a drug used to treat anxiety.
Mrs. Anthony was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center and released Monday.
Mrs. Anthony told the Tennessean newspaper on Sunday that she tripped on some stairs, hit her head and woke up in “the psych ward.” The same day she told the City Paper in Nashville that she had been bitten by a dog. Her mother later told the Tennessean on Monday that Mrs. Anthony was hospitalized because of a bad back.

Wow — how often does one overdose on Xanax, fall down the stairs, get bitten by a dog, and throw their back out on one night? That’s some karmic reaction going on there! My guess from Anthony’s earlier outburst is that the first explanation is probably the best.
The ABA has noted one positive development from the idiocy of Sally Anthony, wannabe pop star and wannabe George Steinbrenner. After seeing the threshold of intelligence and class for ABA franchise ownership, the league has received over a thousand applications for prospective owners for their planned expansion. No word has come from the ABA if that includes Leona Helmsley.

Milwaukee Had 17 Precincts With 100+ More Votes Than Voters

Greg Borowski reports in today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that an analysis of voting records done by the newspaper reveals that seventeen precincts in the city showed at least 100 more votes than the number of registered voters, even counting the already-problematic same-day registrants. Four precincts, or wards, had more than 500 extra votes:

Record-keeping surrounding the Nov. 2 presidential election in Milwaukee is so flawed that in 17 wards there were at least 100 more votes recorded than people listed by the city as voting there.
In two wards, one on the south side and one on the north side, the gap is more than 500, with fewer than half the votes cast in each ward accounted for in the city’s computer system, a Journal Sentinel review has found.
Such gaps were present at different levels in nearly all of the city wards and could hamper the investigation launched last week by federal and local authorities into possible voter fraud by giving an incomplete or inaccurate picture of who actually voted.
They also raise questions about the level of oversight of how the city records who voted in each ward – an important safeguard that, properly done, can be used to spot double voting and other problems.
And unless the gaps can be fully resolved, they leave room for critics to allege that ballot boxes were stuffed in the city, which went heavily to Democrat John Kerry over President Bush in a state with one of the closest margins in the country.

Milwaukee has 312 voting wards, and the MSJ checked the records to see if it could find a pattern of abuse. It didn’t find a geographic pattern, although Sean Hackbarth at The American Mind seems to note a couple of interesting items when he checks his map:

From looking at the Journal Sentinel’s map of the really messed up wards we see them scattered across the city. The only real concentration was in the far north side, wards 258, 259, and 260. Combined those three wards had 490 more ballots cast than voters listed as voting. Such a concentration could mean a concerted fraud effort was happening in that area. Three wards that also caught my eye: Ward 312 at Marquette University, Ward 39 at UW-Milwaukee, and Ward 44 near UWM. Wards where university students votes makes me suspicious because in 2000 Marquette University students bragged about voting more than once. One of the admitted polling places was Marquette Alumni Memorial Union, Ward 312. These are wards investigators should look at first.

Most of the problem appears to have been a highly careless election staff that didn’t bother to scan the election logs, or failed to include them altogether. This is the important safeguard that the MSJ reports was ignored altogether, and it bolsters the notion that systemic fraud may be a secondary explanation, behind incompetence. It resulted in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of unrecorded votes as well; Borowski and the MSJ staff found 593 in one ward alone. Lisa Artison could not comment on this development as she was out of the office yesterday, but that’s still not good news for her or the bureaucracy she leads.
So now on top of an outrageously high number of same-day registrants (30% of Milwaukee’s total for the second presidential election in a row), we have a casual and haphazard counting and verification process to add to a casual and haphazard registration process. The bill attempting to mitigate the latter faces stiff Democratic opposition, and the Democrats have their usual ally in camp for the battle:

On Tuesday, Rick Graber, head of the state Republican Party, challenged his Democratic counterpart to appear at a hearing on the matter Thursday so together they can condemn “the fact that potentially thousands of voters across Wisconsin had their legally cast ballot disenfranchised by fraud and abuse.”
Linda Honold, state Democratic Party chair, said she was unsure if she would attend the meeting but added that if she did go, she would do so to oppose the bill.
“If I’m there, I’m not going to be arguing what he wants me to argue,” she said.
Others, including the head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the group Wisconsin Citizen Action, condemned the voter ID proposal.

The Democrats appear united in trying to protect their power base and the easily-manipulated system which keeps them in statewide office. The ACLU can be relied upon to oppose any kind of ID scheme, no matter how reasonable, especially when it favors the Democrats. Perhaps the ACLU could explain why presenting a valid ID on Election Day make voting “harder” for qualified voters, since most people drive to the polls and should have it on them anyway. Those who do not drive can inexpensively get a state photo ID that works just as well and remains valid just as long, and if they write checks in most places, already need. The only people who find it “harder” to vote when ID is required are the people who don’t belong in the polling station in the first place.
It appears that Milwaukee’s fiasco has many dimensions to it, and both fraud and incompetence remain as root causes. The independent investigation into the city’s practices promises to cause an uproar when completed. Stay tuned.

Kuwait Kills AQ Operatives As Terror Focus Shifts Off Saudis

Kuwait killed five al-Qaeda operatives and captured three more, including the cell leader, as AQ has shifted its focus from Saudi Arabia to the American ally in the Persian Gulf. The AQ cell had targeted American homes in the kingdom for destruction:

Kuwait passed emergency anti-terrorism laws yesterday that granted police wider search powers after foiling a plot to bomb an American residential complex and breaking up an al-Qa’eda cell. …
Security forces said the group were part of a 24-member cell that had been virtually eliminated in four gun battles in the last month. Eight terrorists had been killed and 14 captured. Two were still on the run.
Police discovered plans to bomb the Alia-Ghalia apartment complex, also known as Fintas Towers, twin high-rise buildings overlooking the sea south of the capital.

Apparently, AQ has found the going a bit too tough in Saudi Arabia these days. Either the Saudi security forces’ get-tough policy really works, or the Saudis might have bought them off, although that seems very unlikely to me. (If they did, AQ leadership certainly blew their investment in this cell.) That alone qualifies as a victory, driving AQ from the holy land that they originally formed to protect from American infidels.
Choosing Kuwait as its next target shouldn’t surprise anyone. Kuwait has stood outside of mainstream Arab opinion by allying with their American and British liberators, a position that guaranteed a feud with Islamists. However, AQ does not appear to have been terribly successful in establishing its cell, at least in this case, which points to a lack of effective leadership.
If Kuwait successfully defends itself from AQ infiltration, the next targets might be Qatar, which hosted the command center for the Iraq invasion, or possibly Bahrain. The aim for al-Qaeda now appears to frighten the Gulf states from engaging with the United States, a much smaller scale of targets for the group that targeted the US itself in such a spectacular and brutal manner. If the choice of victims says anything about the bully, it seems like AQ has degraded dramatically in the past three years.

Dems: We Weren’t Obstructionist Enough

Fresh off of their reaction to the historic Iraqi elections as a defeat which required an immediate retreat, the leadership of the Democratic Party further cemented its separation from political reality by declaring today that they failed to obstruct enough judicial nominees in the last session of Congress:

Senate Democrats are “not going to cut and run” from a battle over President Bush’s judicial nominations, the party’s leader vowed Tuesday, adding that some Democrats regret not having blocked even more appointments.
“If they bring back the same judges we’re going to do the same thing,” Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the administration. Democrats blocked votes on 10 of Bush’s first-term appointments to the courts and confirmed more than 200.
Republicans have threatened to change long-standing Senate rules to strip Democrats of their ability to block votes, but Reid sounded a note of defiance. “Well, let them do it,” he said.

Well, at least we finally found one battle from which they refuse to “cut and run”. Unfortunately for the Democrats, it’s their Little Bighorn, which Tom Daschle discovered a bit too late last year. Reid may find himself confident of holding a filibuster, but Reid doesn’t have to worry about getting re-elected in 2006. Senators like Kent Conrad, Mark Dayton (who has his own problems), and other red-staters can’t afford to pull a Daschle in this session. Already some Democrats want to put some distance between themselves and Reid, Kennedy, Boxer, & Co. I doubt that they’ll want to extend the lease on the GOP’s main campaign issue in the Senate races of 2004.
As part of the joint interview, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sounded off on social-security reform. She attempted to use the new Democratic strategy of values focus to slam the proposed changes towards limited privatization:

Reid said not a single Democratic member of the Senate favors using payroll taxes to create personal accounts. And Pelosi said any Social Security legislation “shouldn’t begin by slashing benefits.” Bush administration officials have said the president may recommend reducing the benefits guaranteed future retirees as part of his plan.
Pelosi said that Bush’s plan envisioned taking an “unconscionable, obscene, immoral amount of money to privatize” Social Security.

Let’s be clear about this. The money that funds Social Security doesn’t grow on a tree somewhere off the Potomac River. That money gets confiscated by the government and redistributed at whim. Bush proposes to allow the taxpayers from whose pockets the money comes some limited choice about how to invest it in order to create better return for their money. Perhaps one could call that misguided or inefficient, but how exactly does allowing a taxpayer to control their own property equate to immorality or obscenity? Does Nancy Pelosi consider property rights unconscionable? Do the Democrats really want to run on a platform of eliminating property rights in 2006?
I truly thought that after losing three straight national election cycles, the Democrats would learn from their mistakes, grow up, and marginalize the fringe. From what they’ve done so far, they not only have failed to learn a single lesson from their defeats, their current leadership appears to want nothing less than the utter destruction of the Democratic Party.

Bill Clinton To Head UN Tsunami Relief

Here’s a report that will likely have everyone buzzing shortly:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has selected former U.S. President Bill Clinton to be the U.N. point man for tsunami relief and reconstruction, a well-informed U.N. diplomat said Tuesday.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard refused to confirm the appointment but said “a statement will be released on the subject by my office in the next few hours.”

Why do I hear the theme from “Jaws” in my mind, all of a sudden?
How fortunate for Hillary Clinton that her husband will have such a high-profile position over the next couple of years. It will give her endless opportunities to be seen in his shadow, smiling and nodding but unable to get a word in edgewise against the Great Oxygen Remover. On the other hand, pushing him to the opposite side of the globe may give Hillary the opportunity to work alone for a while, building her move to the center for her re-election campaign in 2006 and the presidential campaign two years afterwards. In either case, it means that Bill will once again be given a pulpit from which to pontificate on American foreign policy.
I’m curious about one thing, though. Doesn’t Annan care about the connections that Bill Clinton had to Marc Rich, who appears to be at the center of the Oil-For-Food corruption scandal? It looks like Annan still hasn’t learned a damned thing about accountability from UNSCAM.