Notable Quotables - 04/14/2003


Looking Forward to a Long War

John McWethy: "As the U.S. begins to really squeeze Baghdad, U.S. intelligence sources are saying that some of Saddam Hussein's toughest security forces are now apparently digging in, apparently willing to defend their city block by block. This could be, Peter, a long war."
Peter Jennings: "As many people had anticipated."
-ABC's World News Tonight, April 4.


Comforting a Dying Dictatorship

"Within the United States, there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties those who oppose the war."
"Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces....And I personally do not understand how that happened, because I've been here many times and in my commentaries on television I would tell the Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces, the determination of the government, and the willingness to fight for their country. But me, and others who felt the same way, were not listened to by the Bush administration."
"Now America is re-appraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and re-writing the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance; now they are trying to write another war plan."
-Then-NBC/MSNBC/National Geographic Explorer correspondent Peter Arnett's comments on Iraqs state-controlled television network, March 30.

"Right-wing media and politicians are looking for any opportunity to be critical of the reporters who are here....Some reporters make judgments, but that is not my style. I present both sides and report what I see with my own eyes."
-Arnett in an April 1 column he wrote for Britains Daily Mirror, an anti-war tabloid, with his theory as to why he was fired after his appearance on Iraqi TV.

"Patriots" Who Use Fellow Iraqis As Hostages and Human Shields

"Given that level of fight that has been seen in the Iraqis...does the President have any judgment as to whether these aren't just soldiers who are being terrorized to fight, and not just essentially gangsters who are loyal to Saddam, but these are Iraqis who believe they are acting as patriots defending their country from an invasion?"
-ABC's Terry Moran questioning White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer at a televised briefing, March 28.

Break Out the White Flags

"With every passing day, it is more evident that the failure to obtain permission from Turkey for American troops to cross its territory and open a northern front constituted a diplomatic debacle. With every passing day, it is more evident that the allies made two gross military misjudgments in concluding that coalition forces could safely bypass Basra and Nasiriya and that Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq would rise up against Saddam Hussein. Already, the commander of American ground forces in the war zone has conceded that the war that they are fighting is not the one they and their officers had foreseen. 'Shock and awe' neither shocked nor awed."
-Former New York Times Washington bureau chief R. W. Apple, Jr. in a March 30 news analysis.


Newsweek's "Arrogant Blunder"

"Steadfast, but his war cluelessly flings open the gates of hell, making any sort of victory Pyrrhic."
-Newsweek's April 7 "Conventional Wisdom" column, explaining why President Bush deserved a down arrow for the week.

"British P. M. can actually explain this thing coherently. He's Churchill to Bush's Red Buttons."
-The next item in the same column, assigning an up arrow to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"Tells Meet the Press just before the war, 'We will be greeted as liberators.' An arrogant blunder for the ages."
-The next item in the same column, assigning a down arrow to Vice President Dick Cheney.


Our Shameful & Medieval Tactics

"Why didn't the U.S. and British military develop some new tactics and strategies so that we could avoid this shameful situation where the people of Basra are besieged, where the people of Baghdad are besieged? Because you know, we talked about British and American blood being spilled here, but for the long-term security of the American people, to try to rebuild the image of the United States abroad, it's how much Iraqi blood is spilled that really matters here. And there is too much civilian death going on here and the U.S. military flunked, flunked the test of devising a way to have an inside-out removal of this regime instead of setting up these almost medieval siege situations."
-The History Channel's Arthur Kent, who covered the first Gulf War for NBC, on CNN's Larry King Live, April 5.


General Stahl's Bleak Critique

Lesley Stahl: "The Powell Doctrine in military terms is that you throw a massive force, if you're going to go to war, make it huge. There are now criticisms, we're beginning to hear, that this force isn't massive enough."
Colin Powell: "It's nonsense....The United States armed forces, with our coalition partners - the British, principally, and the Australians - have gone 300 miles deep into Iraq in a period of five days. That is a heck of an achievement."
Stahl: "Yeah, but our, the rear is exposed."
Powell: "It's not. Exposed to what? Exposed to small-"
Stahl: "Exposed to fedayeen, exposed-"
Powell: "Fine. So? We'll get them in due course...."
Stahl: "Are you saying you're not worried or concerned about guerilla warfare?"
Powell: "Of course we are and that, and we're trained to handle this....They're not threatening the advance."
Stahl: "But you can't get your supplies, well you can't-"
Powell: "Who says?"
Stahl: "-can't get the humanitarian-"
Powell: "Who says?"
Stahl: "-well you can't get the humanitarian aid in there."
Powell: "Only because the minefields haven't been cleared at the port of Umm Qasr....The situation will change rapidly."
-Exchange on CBS's 48 Hours, March 25.

"You fought in Vietnam...Any feelings of deja vu?"
-Stahl's question to former Navy Secretary James Webb, a Vietnam veteran, on the same show.


Both Are Intimidating to ABC

"If I had a bunch of fedayeen and Republican Guard around me, I'd say, 'Yeah Saddam!' But if I had a bunch of American soldiers around me, I'd say, 'Yeah America!'"
-Paul Slavin, Executive Producer of ABC's World News Tonight, as quoted in an April 4 New York Times story about the difficulties of accurately reporting what the Iraqi people really think about the war.

Channeling Iraqi Propaganda

"Iraqis are growing increasingly enraged by the mounting damage to civilian sites - including this maternity hospital, smashed up by a bomb that exploded nearby. Several people were killed, even though patients had been evacuated at the start of the war. Walking through the streets of Baghdad today, it's clear that this war is not popular. I asked this man if he thinks the war is about liberating him from Saddam's brutal regime. 'Liberation?' he asked me. 'Who asked for America to liberate us?'"
-Freelancer Richard Engel reporting from Iraqi-controlled Baghdad for ABCs World News Tonight, April 2.


Condemning "War of Conquest"

"The danger is that we can win the military victory and lose the peace. I think the measure of resistance that we've seen, and the kind of fighting, bodes ill for the occupation...and I know we want to call it a liberation, but I think this looks more like a war of conquest than a war of liberation."
-Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the Fox News Channel at about 11:30am ET on April 3.


Could Be Worse Than Iraq Claims

"Using Iraqi government figures, which we cannot verify - they may be high or they may be low, we do not know - almost 700 civilians have been killed in the country since the U.S. invaded."
-Peter Jennings on the April 2 World News Tonight.


ABC Reports Same Deaths Twice

"It is very hard to keep up with the effect of the fighting on Iraqi civilians. The Reuters News Agency says that a missile strike, possibly American, killed civilians as well as soldiers at a village near Baghdad airport. The television network Al-Jazeera reported that 18 civilians died during bombing near the northern city of Mosul."
-ABC's Peter Jennings on World News Tonight, April 3.

"There is no reliable estimate, as we've said, of Iraqi military casualties, though the U.S. says that 300 were killed in the fight for the airport alone. As for Iraqi civilians, very, very difficult. The Al-Jazeera network reported today that 18 people were killed near Mosul during a U.S. bombing raid. Overall statistics are just immensely difficult at this time."
-Jennings on World News Tonight, April 4.


Free Gas Just Like Human Shields

"The fine folks of Sunoco A+ in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, decided to give $10 of free gas to, quote unquote, 'patriotic vehicles.' Now, obviously this is silly....
But....I don't think I'm going way out on a limb here to assume that somewhere in that blocks long line of drivers near Lake Ronkonkoma waiting for their five free gallons, were a few who weren't really that gung ho about the war, but just stuck a flag in their windshield wiper to get the gasoline gratis. Unintentional or not, that's purchased patriotism. And as we are reminded every time we hear about Iraqi human shields and forced suicide bombers, purchased patriotism is one of the things we're fighting against."
-MSNBC's Keith Olbermanns last item on his new 8pm ET show, Countdown: Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 3.