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Letters to the editor

Joy Overbeck

“60 Minutes,” Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Bob Woodward are in bed together. And it’s real crowded in there.

Three Bush-bashing books in four months, and every one of their authors hailed as national heroes in the courageous tradition of whistle-blowers on the most prestigious and respected news show in the nation. Wowie kazowie, Batman, could there be a coincidence here?

Anyone – except those massively in denial – can certainly see the glaringly obvious theme at work. The “60 Minutes” shows have abused their influence and integrity by showcasing these empty, groundless claims by administration malcontents for two motives: corporate profits, and anti-Bush propagandizing.



Richard Clarke and his Bush-blaming book, full of empty puffery and views which contradict his previous praise of the prez, recently was awarded not one, but two, huge chunks of face time on the venerable “60 Minutes.” Similar grandstanding will occur tonight when Bob Woodward appears on the show for his Bush-bashing-book-publication orgy. Likewise in January when the fired and shamed Paul O’Neill lashed back childishly with a book he himself later repudiated.

And what do all of these “authors” have in common? Why, lo and behold, each of their publishers (Free Press and Simon & Schuster) are owned by the same mega corp that owns “60 Minutes” – Viacom! Beyond the blatant influence peddling, what’s truly sickening is that these book-hawking partisan shills are crowned with the righteous halo of “60 Minutes'” decades-long reputation as fearless exposer of deceit and corruption.



But now “60 Minutes” itself needs to be exposed as the deceiver. Most viewers won’t notice that its interviewers turn soft and sympathetic when they talk to these Bush detractors. This complicity of what should be hard-hitting, fact-finding reporters amounts to an endorsement of the ridiculous views of their subjects. No tough questions here, no probing for truth.

Leslie Stahl didn’t ask Clarke why, in the years he worked for him, Clarke had praised Bush’s anti-terrorism policies, while now suddenly he turns on his former boss like a mad dog. She didn’t probe stunning inconsistencies such as the fact Clarke said in 2002 that the Bush administration had decided in the spring of 2001 to “to increase CIA resources … for covert action, five-fold, to go after al Qaeda.”

That is, Bush wanted to give the CIA five times the budget it had under Clinton. You won’t find that in his book.



Likewise, in a 2002 news briefing, Clarke said that before 9/11 Bush had expressed frustration with “swatting flies” and wanted to eliminate al Qaeda altogether. A long-term plan to do just that was formulated and given to the president just prior to Sept. 11. Somehow, that never came out in the Stahl-Clarke interview.

Watching that interview, you’d never know that the Clinton administration totally rejected Clarke’s proposal to bomb al Qaeda training camps in order to destroy them, not just to incompetently attempt hitting bin Laden. The Bush plan approved before 9/11 expanded Clarke’s proposal to destroy al Qaeda.

Even after the October 2000 al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole, Clinton wouldn’t go in there and root the terrorists out as Clarke advised. Clarke actually says in his book that the Bush team “changed the strategy from one of rollback with al Qaeda over the course (of) five years, which it had been, (with Clinton) to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda.” This is all before 9/11.

Leslie Stahl didn’t bring it up, neither did Clarke. He was allowed to make his vapid accusations that Bush was soft on terrorism without any contradiction from Stahl or from his own words.

It’s appalling when the most prestigious news program in the world is reduced to using its mighty influence to promote empty, substanceless claims by desperate people who are using “60 Minutes” for their personal poltical agenda. And it’s simply not credible that the savvy reporters and producers of “60 Minutes” would allow themselves to be thus used if it weren’t for an identical poltical agenda.

The worst of it is that once these poseurs appear on this highly respected, multi-award-winning news show, the larger media snaps up the story and is off and running with an hysterical hue and cry. Then it’s too late for a critical or dispassionate examination of the facts; mob media rule takes over.

For days or even weeks, every newspaper and newscast in the nation has the same distorted-reality headline: “Bush Wanted to Attack Iraq After 9/11 Clarke Reveals!!!” And it’s picked up around the world to further damage the administration.

Bush didn’t want to attack Iraq. He merely asked Clarke to look into whether Iraq was involved, a perfectly reasonable reaction the day after the disaster. If he was Iraq-obsessed as Clarke claims, it lasted all of six days – on Sept. 17, Bush approved targeting Afghanistan.

So here we go again on Sunday with Bob Woodward, as he makes yet another desperate attempt to recover the star spotlight decades after Watergate. No doubt there will be explosive revelations about the Bush team’s incompetence, malfeasance, mass nose-picking in national security meetings, whatever. And the next week will see screaming headlines that hype the new revelations to every village and town.

Beware, “60 Minutes” watchers. Do your own research. The once hard-hitting correspondents of “60 Minutes” have proved themselves bereft of integrity and therefore unworthy of your trust. They have books to sell, and they are on the take, both financially and politically.

Joy Overbeck

Edwards

Not quite

In response to Kaye Ferry’s commentary on April 14 concerning the Blues Traveler concert being such as outstanding success for retailers, I would like to offer another perspective.

Yes, such events are great for Vail, but to suggest that the concert boosted sales for retailers, at least on Gore Creek Drive, where the concert took place is ridiculous. I am currently unaware of any merchant in the immediate concert area who shares Kaye’s opinion.

We had a very good weekend of business, but it was not due to the many Blues Traveler fans that came to Vail for the concert. Our business benefited from Vail’s visitors for the Easter holiday, many of whom visited from Mexico.

None of our customers attempted to come to our store Saturday afternoon. Our sales on Saturday were excellent up until the beginning of the concert at 3:30. Following that time, there was a dramatic drop. We, like many of the other retailers in the immediate concert vicinity, were forced to close our doors during concert hours (five hours).

I only disagree with Kaye on the effect the concert had on retail business specifically on Gore Creek Drive. She is correct that the crowd was great.

I also agree that Vail needs more special events similar to the Blues Traveler concert. However, more concern should be paid to the affected merchants and business owners. Alternative sites more conducive to a major concert should be considered. A narrow and busy pedestrian street on a holiday weekend might not be the best solution.

Jenn Bruno

Offended

This letter goes to the so-called authorities around this valley. I was in Wal-Mart the other day and heard a cop make a very rude comment about a group of Hispanic guys. His exact words were, “Are those gang-banger friends of yours?”

He was talking to a Wal-Mart employee and referring to a group of guys who were exchanging a stereo. For me to hear this was very offensive.

My respect for any type of police officer was lost from that moment on. Your stereotyping of all Hispanics as gang-bangers is like me saying all police officers are lazy and corrupt.

Mary Ramirez

Avon


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