Some Conservatives Are More Equal Than Others
The ConWeb ignores doubts -- raised by their fellow conservatives -- about the credibility of a translator making claims about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
By Terry Krepel
The ConWeb likes to make instant heroes out of people to promote causes they adore.
The latest is Bill Tierney, a former United Nations weapons inspector who spent the past week or so promoting mid-1990s audio tapes of then-Iraq leader Saddam Hussein that Tierney claimed proved that Saddam and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
The first to bite was CNSNews.com in two Feb. 15 articles promoting the tapes and the private "intelligence summit" at which they were unveiled. The articles -- one by Monisha Bansal, the other by Sherrie Gossett -- were strangely cloak-and-dagger, refusing to give Tierney's name. Bansal wrote, "The agenda for the event indicates that the person who will speak about the tapes is at this point 'anonymous,'" while Gossett (whose article plugged a pre-summit appearance of the tapes on ABC's "Nightline") stated that summit organizer John Loftus as saying only that the tapes came from a "former American military intelligence analyst."
A Feb. 16 NewsMax article promoting the tapes, however, used Tierney's name and quoted him claiming that "the tapes will vindicate the pre-war analysis of Iraqi WMD programs." The article was written by conservative writer Kenneth R. Timmerman, author of, among other books, a hatchet job on Jesse Jackson (promoted, unsurprisingly, by the likes of WorldNetDaily) and recipient of softball interviews by David Horowitz's FrontPageMag website.
But when ABC didn't present Tierney's worst-case scenario that the tapes proved beyond a doubt that Saddam had WMD, Tierney came out of the woodwork to complain on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes"; a Feb. 17 CNS article by Susan Jones on Tierney's appearance called Tierney "the man who interpreted the tapes." NewsMax joined the fray with a Feb. 17 article repeating Tierney's claim that ABC "discarded his translations and went with a less threatening version of the Iraqi dictator's comments." NewsBusters' Dave Pierre also highlighted Tierney's appearance, additionally pointing out "an eye-opening November 2005 interview for FrontPageMag" with Tierney.
None of these articles, though, made note of the following exchange between Tierney and show co-host Alan Colmes, showing the level of Tinerney's willingness to have a serious debate about the issue:
COLMES: Can I ask you a question?
On that same program, Tierney also claimed that "I know more about this than David Kay does." Kay was the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq until 2004; Tierney, near as we can tell, has not been in Iraq since 1998, when he, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency, "demonstrated an unwillingness to comply with routine intelligence procedures" by praying with an Iraqi Christian defector shortly before the 1998 Desert Fox air strikes against Iraq.
Of Tierney's appearance at the "intelligence summit" itself, NewsMax served up a Feb. 18 article by Timmerman (but with Tierney's claims buried at the end) and a Feb. 20 article complaining that "but the press has decided" that Tierney's "bombshell development isn't newsworthy." A Feb. 21 CNS article by Gossett noted that "The presentation of translated excerpts was bogged down by its three-hour length; and by the inclusion of vague, cryptic and inconclusive sections. Tierney provided context for the conversations and his interpretation of their significance." Gossett added that Tierney "has signed a book deal. The book, tentatively titled 'My High Tower,' is about 'the spiritual dimension of military intelligence,' Tierney said, adding that 'God's my intel system.'"
That line by Gossett provides a hint to the possible credibility problems surrounding Tierney, which otherwise have gone unreported by CNS and NewsMax.
Tierney's methods of ascertaining this location [where Iraq was purportedly operating a clandestine uranium-processing plant] were rather unconventional. "I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not, and then know if I needed to pursue it," he said. His assessments through prayer were then confirmed to him by a friend's clairvoyant dream, where he was able to find the location on a map. "Everything she said lined up. This place meets the criteria," Tierney said of a power generator plant near the Tigris River that he believes is actually a cover for a secret uranium facility.
Tierney stood by his Noory comments in a post-summit interview with National Review's Byron York, The normally solidly conservative York questioned other aspects of the summit, such as main sponsor Michael Cherney, an Israeli citizen who has been denied a visa to enter America because of his alleged ties to the Russian mafia. York concluded that "the people associated with the Intelligence Summit start with a significant credibility disadvantage."
Even conservative blogger Roger L. Simon had a problem with Tierney: "I wanted to like Tierney, I mean really like him, but I have to admit that I was put off by his excessive religiosity."
Yet the ConWeb has not reported on these concerns about Tierney -- concerns raised by their fellow conservatives, who presumably have more credibility for making such claims than, say, a liberal saying the same thing. Apparently, some conservatives are more equal than others.
Update: WorldNetDaily finally jumped into the issue with a Feb. 27 article by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa Lappen -- both with an organzation called the American Center for Democracy -- asserting that allegations that Michael Cherney (misspelled here as "Cheney"), the "industrial magnate and Israeli philanthropist" who helped fund the "intelligence summit" featuring Bill Tierney's interpretation of tapes featuring Saddam Hussein, has ties to the "Russian Mafiya" have been "already disproved and dismissed." The only evidence presented to support the claim is a link to a Jan. 11 FrontPageMag article -- also written by Ehrenfeld and Lappen -- purporting to make that case. But Ehrenfeld and Lappen fall short here too, with claims such as "Over the next several years, courts, law enforcement agencies and even Interpol exonerated Cherney of all rumored illegal activities across Europe and Israel" unsupported by any actual evidence to back them up and alleged "massive official documentation proving Cherney’s innocence" not specifically cited.
The FrontPageMag article also notes that Cherney was to receive "the first Distinguished Service Award granted by the Intelligence Summit." But as York pointed out, Cherney's organization, the Michael Cherney Foundation, is listed as the summit's only "Platinum Sponsor," meaning Cherney contributed at least $100,000 to the event. So essentially, he was paying to give himself an award, a fact unnoted by Ehrenfeld and Lappen.
The writers also claim that the "intelligence community" was "attempting to discredit this conference." Yet conference participants such as Tierney have engaged in credibility-damaging behavior, which even conservatives such as York and Simon pointed out.
Perhaps Ehrenfeld and Lappen might want to take some time to explain why behavior that would raise credibility questions in pretty much anyone else should be ignored coming from Tierney.