Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Bin Laden Tape, German Terror Plot, Madeleine McCann Case, Raw Politics, Homeland Security Report, And Iraq Security Forces (Thursday's Show)

Hi everybody. Do you know what time it is? It's 'be afraid' time! That's right, Anderson Cooper is kicking us off tonight with the news that there's about to be a new al Qaeda tape released, this one from bin Laden himself. We know this because they've apparently put out a little preview. A little "coming soon," if you will. They've got a production company, they're doing previews,...I hear next they're looking into starting up a radical version of Netflix. We're told that bin Laden actually hasn't put out a video tape himself in three years, but man, it sure feels like we're being inundated with them. "They seem to be putting out more tapes than the "Girls Gone Wild" series," says Anderson. Bwah! Not the comparison I would have made, but yes, that works.

For discussion we're joined by Ben Venzke, CEO of IntelCenter, and terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. Of note is that bin Laden's beard is actually darker than usual in the preview they put out. But before you start thinking Just For Men is shipping to the mountainous region of the Afghan/Pakistan border, Anderson tells us that their CNN expert peeps think it's an old picture that's been photoshopped. I guess even Islamic extremists like to make a good impression. You know, in between when they're threatening to kill us. At the time of this blogging, the tape has already been released, but I really can't tell you much. Because honestly? I don't care. Oh, I'm sure it's very jihadi and everything, with perhaps a trademark touch of "death to America" flare, but I'm been through worrying about these tapes for a while now. When we see bin Laden the only thing we should be thinking about is why he hasn't been caught yet.

Next up we have an update on that German terror plot that Arachnae blogged for you yesterday and of which I am admittedly unfamiliar. Apparently there are three people already in custody and now Paula Newton is live to tell us that they're looking for 10 more. Because important details of terror plots seem to have this habit of hitting the news a few weeks after the initial story breaks, I kind of have a personal policy of not giving much thought to them until that time. Quite often we find out they weren't quite as, OMG scary, as first thought. This one looks like it could be the real deal though, but I need to learn more. Anyway, Anderson brings Paul and Ben back into the conversation and they discuss a bit about how German-born Muslim converts are becoming a problem. It's that assimilation song that we've heard before. As for the American-Muslim community, they're the most assimilated in the world. So yay for that. After all this we get a preview of Anderson's special, "Narco State: The Poppy Jihad," airing this weekend. Looks good. Hopefully I will not forget. On the weekend, all bets are off.

Transitioning now to an Anderson piece on that missing three-year-old British girl, Madeleine McCann. This story has actually been going on since May, and I have to say, I'm proud of 360 for laying off of it thus far. The family being Brits might have something to do with that (possibly harder to book people close to the case), or maybe not. But props where props are due. Now that I've said that, they'll probably give it the Anna Nicole treatment. Anyway, some background: little Madeleine (who is so adorable) goes on vacation with her parents and siblings to Portugal. One night while the kids are sleeping, mom and dad go to dinner 300 feet away. When mom then goes to check on the kids, Madeleine is gone. Anderson brings Paula back to discuss the case, but a lot of this is moot now because at the time of this blogging both parents have become suspects. So, yikes. I hope they find her alive, I hope the parents aren't really involved, and I hope the media doesn't turn this into a circus that makes everything worse (JonBenet anyone?).

Moving on now to a preview of a special on polygamy, my favorite subject. I think I might be missing that one. From there we're on to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. First up, we learn that Fred Thompson thinks he's the "second coming of Ronald Reagan." Hey, is he going to sell arms to Iran too? Next, Tom tells us that The Terminator is a bit miffed about the Republican plan to try to break up California's 55 electoral votes. He thinks it makes them look like losers, or, er, girly men, if you will. Lastly, we learn that Labor totally hearts Edwards. Those endorsements are just rolling in. Too bad the Labor movement has all but been destroyed.

After Tom, Anderson urges us to check out their podcast, which is "on the Internets, by the way." Aw, I like how he's saying "the Internets" now. Almost two years behind the times there, but still amusing. And I'll give a cookie to anyone that can tell me where the phrase came from. Oh hell, you'll just use the Google anyway, so I shall tell you. It happened in my city, actually, during one of the 2004 presidential debates. Regarding a question about reinstating the draft, our lovely president noted that he heard "there's rumors on the, uh, Internets." And the rest is history. I'm eating the cookie.

In tonight's "What Were They Thinking?" Erica Hill informs us that we found bin Laden! Okay, not really. It turns out that during the APEC Summit in Sydney, a dude dressed as bin Laden was able to get through a couple security checkpoints in the motorcade, before being busted right outside Bush's hotel. The guy was from an Australian tv show. And that security? $160 million. Money well spent, I see. Good Lord. And hey, want me to make this story more bizarre? It seems they can't keep away bin Laden, but they are going to make damn sure those outdoor cafe tables don't have knives and forks. We're making sense now. Sigh. Seriously though, that fake bin Laden has cajones. I'd be afraid they'd shoot me. And I'm not kidding.

Next up Anderson teases a story on the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report. "Well, you may not be surprised by the answer in the new report, but you're certainly not going to be pleased. " Now see, that's much better than the usual way they go at these stories: "you're going to be shocked!" You might remember I've had a bit of an issue with that. Anyway, Anderson is correct, I'm not happy. In a Joe Johns "Keeping Them Honest" piece we learn that we still shouldn't count on DHS for, well, anything. Because they totally suck. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says they've met only about half of their expectations, all the while spending billions. Now, of course, DHS says the GAO is being unfair, but right now it's the American people that are SOL. And besides, Claire McCaskill, (my senator!) is a former auditor and she says it isn't the GAO's fault they found problems. You go, Claire! For anyone interested, Rolling Stone did a really good piece a couple years back on Homeland Security, specifically focusing on FEMA. Yeah, it's dated, but it was good enough that I remembered it after all this time.

I guess it's report day, because now we're moving on to one about how much Iraq's security forces continue not to 'stand up, so we can stand down.' We're joined by retired Marine Corps General James Jones and former D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey for discussion. General Jones pretty much tries to put a positive spin on the situation, while Chief Ramsey explains that there are actually two groups of police, which I did not know. They talk a bit about sectarian problems, but I'm wondering why Anderson didn't bring up more of what we're always hearing from Michael Ware. Oh well. Props for trying to get General Jones to answer his question.

The Shot tonight is a piece from Brooke Anderson on the life of opera tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. The show was pretty good, but I have to say, 360, I'm getting annoyed. Now they're randomly dropping segments like "Fit or Fat" into the second hour (they always dropped in "CNN Heroes"). This makes no sense to me. Oh, I'm sure they've got numbers - and perhaps charts and graphs - brought to them by people in stiff suits that make this futzing around seem logical, but to me it just seems like a good way to tick off loyal viewers. Because I don't want to miss it if they do a good piece in the second hour, but I'm sure as hell not watching an almost entirely repeated show for five minutes of new news. They're trying to have it both ways and I don't think it's going to work. Either the second hour is a repeat or it's not. Please choose. Tonight gets a B+

News You Might Have Missed: I've decided to start a new feature in which I note stories that 360 isn't covering or updates to stories they've covered in the past. Right now, I hope to add this to most posts, but if that becomes too time consuming I'll start doing a post for it at the end of the week. Anyone who comes across something they'd like to see get added, please drop it in the comments or send me an email, and I'll get it up ASAP. Okay, first up, remember the saga of the missing bees? Well, they finally have a suspect. Also, score one for civil liberties. U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero has struck down some of the Patriot Act. How much do we love Judge Marrero? Very much. And that's going to wrap it up for tonight. (I'm starting out small, people.) But I do have a little something for Sanjay Gupta and John Roberts fans (or even non fans). I'm not sure what kind of sleep deprivation had to factor into the creation of this, but I have to say it left me cracking up for a good five minutes. Oh, and John? You should totally give her the footage.


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