COMMENTS: War Stories

ABC's Brian Ross reminded us why airline travelers now have to check their liquids and gels with screeners at the terminal. It is because of a fear of liquid bombs made of hydrogen peroxide that was triggered by a suspected plot by eight men in England: "At US urging British police moved in well before the men had finalized their plans," Ross recalled. In fact, it was so far before any final plans were drawn up that all eight have been acquitted of a specific plot to blow up jetliners; five of the eight are acquitted entirely. The remaining three were convicted of a murder conspiracy. Officials at the FBI told Ross that it was the right decision to shut down the plot "even if it was not fully formed and led to difficulties in court."

At the Pentagon, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski aired cellphone video from purporting to show the corpses of 90 Afghan civilians laid out in a mosque in Azizabad--60 of them women and children--killed by an air raid by the United States. He quoted the fears of unidentified "US military officials" that their commandos called in the raid after being led to the compound "by faulty intelligence provided by Afghanistan warlords out to settle personal scores." An investigation of the US military after the raid contradicted the local claims about the death toll, putting it at seven civilians plus 30 Taliban guerrillas. Gen David McKiernan has called for a second, separate investigation into the bombing.

Also at NBC, Andrea Mitchell offered free publicity to The War Within, the latest behind-the-scenes history of Iraq War decisionmaking by Bob Woodward of Washington Post. Mitchell focused on Woodward's reporting about the planning for the 2007 troop reinforcement known as the surge. When President George Bush asserted in public--"Absolutely we are winning; al-Qaeda is on the run"--he was being advised by his National Security Council that his policy was "broken." When the President insisted--"The commander is on the ground in Iraq, people who I listen to"--he had cut both the Pentagon and the CIA out of his decisionmaking, secretly placing it entirely in the hands of NSC Advisor Stephen Hadley.


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