CBS’s Face the Nation: Blatant Pro-Israel Pro-War Bias Revealed

CBS’s Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer brought together this morning what he characterized as “one of our best panels of analysts ever,” a group of five supposed experts, to discuss President Obama’s plan to launch military action against Syria: the Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward, the Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol, the New York Times‘ David Sanger, the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)’s Danielle Pletka. Schieffer presented this group as if his audience might expect it to represent a range of views. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Daniel Pletka is vice president of AEI, a neoconservative think tank that was instrumental in dragging the US into the hideously expensive and stunningly counterproductive war in Iraq. Several AEI scholars—including Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen—were associated with war profiteering and the phony intelligence used by pro-Israel neoconservative operatives inside the Bush/Cheney administration to stampede the USA into war in Iraq. Pletka was last in the news for smearing the then-Secretary of Defense nominee, former Senator (R-NE) and decorated Vietnam War veteran Chuck Hagel, as an anti-Semite. (Secretary of Defense Hagel is reported to be privately unenthusiastic about plans for military action against Syria.)

David Ignatius routinely defends Israel and champions proposed Israeli solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict without letting facts get in the way. In 2009, Ignatius caused an international incident that adversely affected Turkish-Israeli relations when, during a panel discussion about the 2008-2009 Gaza War at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he allowed Israeli President Shimon Peres to speak twice as long as the other participants and then attempted to silence Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The panel featured two heads of state, the U.N. secretary-general, and the secretary of the Arab League, and it dealt with an extremely sensitive issue. In allowing Peres to go last, giving him twice as much time to speak, and then repeatedly attempting to cut off Erdogan’s response, Ignatius showcased his pro-Israel bias on a world stage.

David Sanger has long propagandized for a US war against Iran in the pages of the New York Times. According to SourceWatch: “A few days after Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense minister, admitted that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the New York Times ran a series of articles slighting Barak’s assertion all the way to confirming the opposite, i.e., that Iran was actually pursuing such weapons program. Sanger was key in the NYT’s drum beating.” Ray McGovern, a former CIA senior officer who briefed several US presidents, had this to say about Sanger’s articles: “Next it was time for the Times to trot out David Sanger from the Washington bullpen. Many will remember him as one of the Times’ stenographers/cheerleaders for the Bush/Cheney attack on Iraq in March 2003. An effusive hawk on Iran also, Sanger was promoted to a position as chief Washington correspondent, apparently for services rendered. In his Jan. 22 article, ‘Confronting Iran in a Year of Elections,’ Sanger pulls out all the stops, even resurrecting Condoleezza Rice’s “mushroom cloud” to scare all of us—and, not least, the Iranians.”

Bill Kristol is the chairman and co-founder of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and a board member of the Emergency Committee for Israel. Author David Corn has referred to Kristol as “the No. 1 cheerleader for the Iraq War.” Kristol was one of the architects of the blueprint for regime change and “creative destruction” in the Middle East dreamed up by PNAC. Kristol signed the September 20, 2001, PNAC letter endorsing President George W. Bush’s “admirable commitment to ‘lead the world to victory’ in the war against terrorism.” Kristol said in a January 14, 2003, PBS Frontline interview “that the significance of President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address in 2002 (the ‘axis of evil’ speech) is too easily forgotten—that it was a rare moment, ‘the creation of a new American foreign policy’—and that Bush deserves credit for realizing very quickly after Sept. 11 that his presidency would be judged by how he handled the post-9/11 threat of weapons of mass destruction.” Weapons of mass destruction that, as it happened, could not be found because they did not exist.

Bob Woodward is yet another pro-Israel propagandist for executive power and for war. Andrew Bacevich, an accomplished author, Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University, and a retired career officer in the United States Army has described Woodward this way: “Once a serious journalist, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward now makes a very fine living as chief gossip-monger of the governing class. … Back in 2002, for example, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Woodward treated us to Bush at War. Based on interviews with unidentified officials close to President George W. Bush, the book offered a portrait of the president-as-resolute-war-leader that put him in a league with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But the book’s real juice came from what it revealed about events behind the scenes. ‘Bush’s war cabinet is riven with feuding,’ reported the Times of London, which credited Woodward with revealing ‘the furious arguments and personal animosity’ that divided Bush’s lieutenants. Of course, the problem with the Bush administration wasn’t that folks on the inside didn’t play nice with one another. No, the problem was that the president and his inner circle committed a long series of catastrophic errors that produced an unnecessary and grotesquely mismanaged war,” wrote Bacevich. Somehow, Woodward missed all of that and a great deal more. “That war has cost the country dearly—although the people who engineered that catastrophe, many of them having pocketed handsome advances on their forthcoming memoirs, continue to manage quite well, thank you,” declared Bacevich.

This then is “one of our best panels of analysts ever,” according to Bob Schieffer, who once might have rightly claimed to be something other than a stooge for the Israeli foreign ministry. What CBS’s collection of well-heeled pro-Israel propagandists all agree on is this: The US government should launch military action in Syria in order to maintain political and military pressure on Iran, which Israel views as enemy No. 1 (though Iran has not attacked another country in well over 200 years).

One detail the panelists didn’t mention is that Syria is in the Russian sphere of influence and Russia has warships stationed in the eastern Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. Another thing the panelists didn’t mention is that Israeli air and sea forces attacked a lightly armed US Navy signals intelligence vessel, the USS Liberty, in the eastern Mediterranean on June 8, 1967, killing 34 US personnel and wounding 171. Nor did the panelists mention that in the middle 1980s Israeli spies handling an American-Jewish traitor, Jonathan Pollard, stole thousands of highly classified intelligence documents from the US Navy counter-terrorism intelligence facility where Pollard was employed, or that Israel provided many of those documents to the Soviet Union causing great harm to US intelligence capabilities and interests.

What CBS panelists didn’t say is that Syria is the next stop on Israel’s road to a US war against Iran. What they dare not say is that a US attack on Syria might well draw the USA into a much wider war in a region already severely destabilized by more than a decade of enormously expensive, ill-conceived, poorly managed, hideously destructive, and extraordinarily counterproductive US military actions undertaken largely at the insistence of pro-Israel neoconservatives whose wildly inordinate influence over the Washington foreign policy establishment poses an imminent threat to a great many legitimate US national interests, if not to the uninterrupted progress of human civilization.

Michael Gillespie, in addition to his regular freelance work for Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, is also a contributing editor and the Des Moines, IA correspondent for The Independent Monitor, the national newspaper of Arab Americans, published by Sami Mashney in Anaheim, CA. Read other articles by Michael.