Tuesday, September 26, 2006


On Hardball last night, Chris Matthews interviewed Fran Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. If you want to understand how both our government and our press are failing us, look no further:
MATTHEWS: Well, do you think that‘s accurate? Do you think [the Iraq war] has encouraged extremism?

TOWNSEND: Let‘s go back. I mean, certainly the extremists used the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets as a recruiting tool. Certainly they‘ve used the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a recruiting tool. They use many of these grievances as recruiting tools. It shouldn‘t surprise anybody.

And by the way, the president has been very clear about this throughout September when he was giving speeches.

MATTHEWS: Well, do you think that people seek revenge naturally, and isn‘t it a reasonable assumption that if we go into a country and we kill 50,000 Arabs on television, that they will seek revenge? Isn‘t that human nature, tribal instinct?

TOWNSEND: You know, they were killing us long before we went into Iraq. Look at September 11 -- there‘s no question, this—they‘re not killing us because of Iraq, they were killing us long before that.

MATTHEWS: Well, sure, they were killing—you could—well, getting into motives is a tricky thing, I agree with you. But we do know that one of the reasons that bin Laden was most angry at us and hated us was that his government allowed 10,000 infidels into that country for 10 years. And that‘s his reason. I don‘t know why people make up reasons; I assume—don‘t you—that motive at some point is genuine? That when people say they‘re doing something for a reason, there‘s a reason there? Or do you just think they make up excuses to go to war?


MATTHEWS: And kill themselves?

TOWNSEND: No, I think this is a hateful ideology. It uses violence as a means to achieve its ends. And I think that whatever vapid and vacant reasoning that they come up with—do I credit that? No, I don‘t credit that.

Yup, they just hate us. All those various declarations and speeches and fatwas, just a smokescreen for their ideology of murderous hate, not worth considering. Hate. Murderous. Murderous hate. September 11. End of story. It says a lot about this administration that this cartoon of a person is essentially George W. Bush's Richard Clarke.

Townsend's claim that "there was terrorism before we invaded Iraq, therefore the Iraq invasion hasn't caused terrorism" would simply be funny if it weren't being made by one of the administration's top terrorism experts. It's like arguing that cigarettes don't cause cancer because people were getting cancer before cigarettes were invented.

Of course, a lot of blame belongs to Matthews for his letting this sort of crap go by without challenge. A real journalist would have pounced on any of Townsend's comically shallow soundbites. As ridiculous as she sounds, though, Townsend at least has an excuse: Defending utterly failed policies is her job. Matthews' job apparently involves making sure that the name of his show continues to be deeply ironic.

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