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Posts Tagged ‘Press Secretary’

Karmatic Irony of the Year: Blackwater Saves Alan Grayson’s Life in Niger

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Florida Democratic House Member Alan Grayson Owes His Life to Blackwater (now Xe), who Helicoptered Grayson to Safety Last Week From Conflict in Niger

In the heat of the health care debate, we take this moment to point out the most ironic news this year: Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson was rescued from Niger by Blackwater (now known as “Xe”) security forces. For the uninitiated, Grayson isn’t exactly a fan of Blackwater:

Before joining Congress, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) was the scourge of military contractors, filing dozens of whistleblower lawsuits against companies who defrauded the government in connection with their work in Iraq. In the past, the freshman lawmaker, who’s known for his pugilistic style and no-holds barred remarks, has blasted the firms working on the payroll of the US government overseas: “We’re not going to let the defense contractors use our money to bribe our government and take it over,” he once said. And he has singled out Blackwater (now known as Xe) for special criticism: “We can’t let, basically, Blackwater take over the entire government here. We have to draw the line somewhere.”

So, Grayson went to Washington after he “made his substantial fortune by suing military contractors” and kept on blasting Blackwater since he’s been in DC, hammering the company on a near daily basis. Last week, Grayson was in Niger on a congressional delegation, and he got caught up in the outbreak of a coup, with active gunfire in the “building next door” and narrowly escaped, as CNN reported:

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, narrowly escaped harm earlier this week after being caught up in a military coup in the African country of Niger.

Grayson’s press secretary, Todd Jurkowski, confirmed to CNN that Grayson was close to the action. “He heard the gunshots. They were literally in the building next door.”

The outspoken congressman was in Niger as part of a congressional delegation focused on science, technology and humanitarian relief, according to Jurkowski. When the situation began to unravel, Grayson was taken to the residence of the United States Ambassador to Niger, where he was placed under armed protection.

On Thursday, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told reporters the U.S. Embassy was monitoring the situation and confirmed Grayson was safe at the embassy. Later that night, a Niger military official announced the country’s constitution has been suspended.

It was not until today’s testimony by Xe executive vice president Fred Roitz in Congress that Xe’s role in saving Alan Grayson’s life in Niger became known. Apparently a subsidiary of Xe’s, Presidential Airways, helicoptered Grayson to safety after security personnel brought him to Xe’s helicopter, as confirmed by Grayson’s spokesman. Perhaps Grayson will have a more charitable view of Blackwater/Xe in the future as he owes his life to their quick action in extracting him from the burgeoning war zone in Niger.

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White House Spokesmen Lie, Claim No GOP Health Care Plan Exists

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer writes this morning that "Will the Republicans Post Their Health Plan… and When?" despite the GOP's posting of a health plan in October 2009

Despite the indisputable fact that the Republican Party posted its health care plan on in October 2009, and the fact that the White House website itself has a link to the GOP plan, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer authored a blog post at 5am this morning smearing the GOP for not providing a health care plan prior to the vaunted health care summit set for Thursday. Yesterday, lead White House spokesman made a similar statement, imploring the GOP to post their plan online.

One can only wonder if Pfeiffer and Gibbs planned this one-two misleading punch in advance or if it is just a comedy of errors. Politico’s Chris Frates sets the record straight yesterday, after Gibbs’ comment, regarding the availability online of the GOP health care plan, entitled “Gibbs may need to read the White House website more closely”:

During today’s press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said he hoped that Republicans would post their reform plans online.

“The president posted ideas of his on the White House website today. We hope Republicans will post their ideas either on their website, or we’d be happy to post them on ours, so that the American people could come to one location and find out the parameters of what will largely be discussed on Thursday,” Gibbs said.

Turns out the House Republicans’ plan has been online since October and already has its own link on the White House website. The White House encourages readers to “read more about House and Senate ideas from both parties on their websites.” The link sends readers to a House GOP website that includes a one-page summary sheet and the legislative text of their proposals.

Pfeiffer’s headline is truly Orwellian, considering the fact that the GOP plan has been online since October 2009: “Will the Republicans Post Their Health Plan… and When?” The mainstream media, other than this lone article by Frates at Politico, appears to be giving Pfeiffer and Gibbs a pass on their explicitly false and misleading statements about the alleged lack of a posted GOP health care plan. Instead, ABC’s Rick Klein calls Pfeiffer’s post a “dare” while ignoring the false and misleading statements, and Time’s Mark Halperin simply notes that the White House “pounces” with the Pfeiffer post.  The’s Michael O’Brien goes so far as to spin the obviously false and misleading statements by Pfeiffer and Gibbs on behalf of the White House (Dems “forced GOP Leaders’ hand” to submit the House bill, the GOP Senators “never crafted” a plan because it relies on “series of piecemeal bills and amendments submitted by different senators”). Of course, no Republicans are sought out and quoted in response to the Gibbs or Pfeiffer false and misleading claims by the mainstream media authors listed above.

Not a single article by any mainstream media organization (besides Frates’s article above) notes that the GOP has had a health care plan posted online at since October 2009, let alone mention that the website has posted a link to it. Instead, the media is pushing the narrative that the the White House has instructed them to push: The GOP has no plan, and the White House desperately wants to cut a bipartisan deal, but cannot because of the GOP’s lack of a plan. It is amazing to see the American media so compliant and agreeable to repost Obama’s talking points, especially considering the indisputable facts disprove those talking points explicitly.   This failure of the media to report facts (GOP plan posted since October 2009, White House site has link to same), and report of talking points instead (Pfeiffer and Gibbs: Where’s the GOP plan?), on this issue is likely foreshadowing of the coverage we’ll see of Thursday’s health care summit, as it appears the establishment media is fully on board with Obama in his last ditch push to ram Obamacare through Congress.

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