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Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Dec. 4
Host: Keith Olbermann
THE LATEST ON THE TSUNAMI DISASTER: George Wehrfritz, Newsweek
WHY HAS IDENTIFYING THE VICTIMS OF LAST WEEK'S TSUNAMI BECOME INCREASINGLY MORE DIFFICULT?: Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist
THE EXCELLENT GRIP AND NO GRIME OF GECKOS: Kellar Autumn, biologist and lead author on the study of geckos
Read the transcript to the 8 p.m. ET show
Updated: Updated: 2:53 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2005
Guests: General Barry McCaffrey, Robert Marquand, Cyril Wecht, Kellar Autumn, Mary Murphy
OLBYWATCH GUIDE: KO devoted a big chunk to the ongoing tragedy in Southeast Asia. But almost 200,000 fatalities from the tsunami didn't detract Keith from his mainstays: alleged Republican vote fraud and sniping at the Administration.
First up, Keith reported on attacks that occurred in Iraq, including a suicide car bomb attack that killed three Brits in Baghdad yesterday. He referred to the attackers as "insurgents" a few times, which tends to blur distinctions between what we traditionally understand as an "insurgent", and a religious fanatic following the directives of radical clerics intent upon destroying infidels everywhere.
Composite meanings of "insurgent" are. . . WordNet Dictionary: "Participant in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions), Synonyms: freedom fighter". Legal definitions point out that an insurgent may be one who justly opposes the tyranny of constituted authorities. States as an example: the colonists who opposed the tyranny of the English government were insurgents, not rebels.
At any rate, there are two catagories of "insurgents" in Iraq. Perhaps a minority of the attackers are the aforementioned religious radicals---like the report on the suicide car bomber. They don't conform to any of the definitions of "insurgents". But most of the attackers are Sunnis from the former regime, and convicts that Saddam released from prison before the invasion. None of these people conform to any definition of "insurgent", because they attack solely for money. They get paid for each attack they perform, and their "salary" per bombing has been steadily increasing over the past year. They also attack their own countrymen, and not just the foreigners.
"Terrorist Mercenaries" might best describe these attackers. At least Keith didn't refer to them as "Iraq's Minutemen", as Michael Moore had done.
Of course KO got his licks in on Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales. He referred to the story that broke yesterday in which retired Army General John Shalikashvili and 11 other former military officers announced their opposition to the Gonzales nomination, claiming that he endorsed detaining suspected terrorists without protections accorded prisoners of war. They also cited concerns that failure of the US to treat prisoners in accord with the Geneva Convention will result in abuse of captured US troops.
KO failed to note that the Gonzales' memo actually referred to Al Qaeda terrorists, and not regular armies from sovereign nations who are signatories to Geneva protections, and who are covered by its provisions. Terrorists are not legally entitled to, nor should be afforded protections normally accorded to prisoners of war, else there would be no incentive for signatories of Geneva to make any effort to comply with the provisions. Gonzales was also providing legal opinion, and not formulating public policy. His opinion was in accord with the US Senate and prior administrations that deemed actions that made unlawful combattants uncomfortable was not on its face, illegal or cruel.
Earth to Keith: Treating members of Al Qaeda any better will not ensure that they will refrain from torturing their captives. And if they beheaded that saintly woman who worked for C.A.R.E. in iraq, it's unlikely they'll treat captured Coalition troops any better, regardless how we treat them.
Jeez, at least on this issue, Chris Mathews in the prior hour was favored with reality checks from C. Boyden Grey, Frank Gaffney, and Tony Blankley. One can't expect that from KO's usual stable of guests.
Finally, it wasn't an Olbermann show without a bow to the left wing cranks pushing VoteFraud2004inOhioButNotPennsylvania. KO "reported" that rumors continue to fly that a Senator may join a dozen Congressmen in challenging the Ohio electors on Thursday. But it won't be Sen. John Kerry, because he will be in Jordan. Wonderful. KO isn't a rumor mongerer. That would make his show no better than Entertainment Tonight. Instead, he "reports" that there are rumors!
KO reported that Republicans responded in Ohio's Supreme Court to a petition from 37 Ohio voters seeking to invalidate the Ohio election results, while in the Washington state gubinatorial election, KO noted that it's the Republicans challenging the Democrat's victory, citing 8500 more ballots cast in 5 counties than there are registered voters! No equivalence should be inferred, as a reversal for the former is highly unlikely, while the later is at least possible. Besides, KO would prefer not to dwell on voter registration fraud, which happens to be a legitimate---albeit a frequently cited Republican---complaint.
The Number One story in the countdown was whether or not late night talk-show pioneer Johnny Carson was healthy. Apparently, he appeared slightly overweight in a recent paparazzi photo of him. T.V Guide's Mary Murphy assured Keith that Carson was mentally fit and physically OK. Keith seemed genuinely relieved to learn this. REALLY relieved, and not like those disingenuous hosts on Entertainment Tonight!