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With Reporters Like BBC Washington Correspondent Justin Webb, Who Needs Republican Spin-Doctors?

With Reporters Like BBC Washington Correspondent Justin Webb, Who Needs Republican Spin-Doctors?

The BBC’s Washington correspondent Justin Webb is truly a fount of misinformation and undigested, regurgitated White House talking-points. Consider this effusion from the BBC website dated January 6, 2007:

Democrats step up Iraq pressure

But in a letter to the president, Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, and House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said adding more combat troops would stretch the US military to breaking point with no strategic gain.

They instead urged a phased redeployment of US forces, starting in four to six months, with a re-emphasis on training, logistics and counter-terrorism operations in Iraq.

The BBC’s Justin Webb in Washington says this is an aggressive move from the Democrats, setting the stage for a huge political battle.

Mr Bush cannot be prevented from sending more troops [emphasis mine–HH], our correspondent says, but he may pay a big political cost if the deployment is carried out amid fierce congressional opposition.

(no byline but attributing these views to Webb)

This is wrong constitutionally, factually, and historically. The US Constitution, Article I, Section 7 provides that:

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Article I, Section 8 further provides,

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States…

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

US Constitution

Both the raising of taxes and the war-making power belong to Congress alone (it is this author’s view that the War Powers Act is an unconstitutional surrender and delegation of these powers to the Executive).

Further, as a practical matter, both the Second Indochina War (“Vietnam War” to Americans) and the US incursions into El Salvador and Nicaragua were stopped by Congressional action to disapprove or not approve funding for unauthorized war actions by the executive.

Compare Mr. Webb’s misinformation with this from CNN posted January 30, 2007:

GOP senator challenges Bush on war powers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush’s declaration that “I am the decision-maker” on issues of war.

“I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider,” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said during a hearing on Congress’ war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. “The decider is a shared and joint responsibility,” Specter said.

The question of whether to use its power over the government’s purse strings to force an end to the war in Iraq, and under what conditions, is among the issues faced by the Democratic majority in Congress, and even some of the president’s political allies as well.

No one challenges the notion that Congress can stop a war by withholding the money to pay for it. [emphasis mine–HH]

In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged the Democrat-controlled Congress to back up its objections to President Bush’s plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq by zeroing out the war budget.

Few expect such a drastic move, but there are other legislative options to force the war’s end, say majority Democrats and some of Bush’s traditional Republican allies.

The alternatives range from capping the number of troops permitted in Iraq to cutting off money for troop deployments beyond a certain date or setting an end date for the war.

[Note: not a permalink: article has changed since the above was quoted]

This is not the first time I have noted Mr. Webb spouting his pro-Republican fantasies, see:

Prophetic Words

And my previous comments to Justin Webb on the BBC:

Balderdash, Rot, and Poppycock

The peculiar assertion by Justin Webb that the Democrats will somehow be blamed for the reputed actions of the Republican Congressman Foley is lacking in any factual basis. This piece is so poorly written it even fails to identify Congressman Foley as the subject, nor does it mention the allegations and evidence pertaining to the issue.

This blog entry is neither news reporting nor news analysis; it is blatant propaganda, pro-Republican pandering and “spin”. Such a preposterous assertion would require more proof than the off-topic quote from a conveniently unnamed and therefore unverifiable “former staffer in the Clinton White House”.

Justin Webb’s reporting is a disgrace to the BBC and to all journalists everywhere and he should resign, or be made redundant immediately.

It is, however, neither the alleged actions of one individual congressman nor of one partisan, biased reporter which will be determinative of the races in other contested Congressional districts. Rather, it will be the fact that the US is bogged down in a war it is losing (Afghanistan) and a war which is already lost (Iraq), coupled with the ongoing assault on the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and the rolling collapse of the economy and de-industrialization of the US which will drive the American people to vote Democratic this November.

–Henry Edward Hardy, posted at 6 October 2006


Bush: No room to hide

“I predict that the Democrats will get the blame for this [Foley scandal] in the end and not quite know how to avoid it.” –Justin Webb, Oct. 6, 2006

Mr. Webb, please have the courtesy and intellectual honesty to admit how wrong you were in writing those words and how utterly foolish, partisan and ill-informed they look in the aftermath of the Democratic landslide.

–Henry Edward Hardy, posted at 10 November 2006

See also:

Move Over Scott Mclellan, Justin Webb Has Drunk The Kool-Aid
Why the internet will revolutionise politics
We are Biased, Admit the Stars of BBC News
Justin Webb [BBC biography]
On The Lam

With “reporters” like Justin Webb, who needs spin-doctors?

Copyright © 2006, 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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30 January, 2007 - Posted by | BBC, Bush, Justin Webb, news, politics, power of the purse, scanlyze, separation of powers, television, US Congress, US Constitution, war, web

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