Thursday, March 30, 2006

Kaloogian Unwittingly Reveals His Own Fraud

When confronted with a mistake (best case) or lie (likely) GOP Congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian did what Republicans do best: He first denies any wrongdoing without knowing better, then when confronted with the evidence, he throws a staffer (his webmaster) under the bus. Kaloogian claims they took so many pictures on the trip to Iraq that no one could keep them straight, and they'll post he correct one (more on this below) and then turns on the one person who really had nothing to do with this whole flap—his opponent. Here is his statement:
"My campaign mistakenly mislabeled a photograph as being from Baghdad, Iraq when it is in fact from Istanbul, Turkey. Immediately after I realized this error I had the photograph replaced with one we took from Baghdad.

I made a mistake in posting the wrong picture, and I accept full responsibility for it.

However, the anti-war activists who are supporting Democrat Francine Busby are trying to use this clerical mistake as justification for opposing the war. How silly.

I will not apologize for supporting the missions our troops are serving in Iraq.

I will not apologize for traveling to Iraq to afford our troops the opportunity to report back home the progress being made that is not being reported by the mainstream news media.

I will not back down from supporting the mission our troops are serving in Iraq to defeat the terrorist threat. By bringing stability, democracy and freedom to the people who were long terrorized by the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, and eliminating safe havens for terrorists, we are ensuring American security at home.

And, most importantly, I will not allow Francine Busby, her "Blame America First" friends, and the anti-military contingent to undermine America’s support for our military men and women and their mission in Iraq."

As if any of that is what happened. Nobody I read yesterday even got into the pros and cons of the War, we were all too busy with the fact that Kaloogian was full of shit. You and your staff tried to foist a picture of Istanbul on your constituents as evidence of a calm, placid Iraq and you got caught. For someone who was trying to convey that the media refuses to accurately portray the situation in Iraq, it might behoove you to be sure you accurately portray it yourself.

This was not just "a clerical error," and there is no excuse for what happened. It was either purely malevolent intent to deceive or astonishing incompetence—neither of which reflects well on you or your staff—and more importantly, has absolutely nothing to do with supporting the troops, the War, Francine Busby, or Blaming America First.

The fact that the picture looked straight out of a Fodor's book should have raised an eyebrow on your staff if it was truly accidental. It didn't.

Of course, if you go to Kaloogian's website it is as if none of this ever happened. The pictures from Iraq are now reduced to two shots of him standing next to generals in a Green Zone tent, and there is no statement, acknowledgement or reference to any of what occurred yesterday.

For a brief period, presumably before just yanking everything down, Kaloogian posted this picture to replace the Istanbul tourism postcard:

The file is actually called "safebaghad.jpg." As you can see, apparently the only way to get a "safe" photo of Baghdad is from a rooftop in the heavily-fortified Green Zone. Also, it should be noted, that this new photo is almost a year old, and the police station shown has since been blown up. At this point, I guess it was smart to go ahead and dismantle the site, because somehow I think the original point is now lost.

Here's how Kaloogian screwed up and essentially reveals the fraud: This "new" picture really shows that the original misleading photo was deliberate. Once he was caught and forced to actually come up with a picture of Baghdad to match the caption, this was the best Kaloogian could do? His statements imply they had "dozens" of man-on-the-street photos laying around (Baghdad and elsewhere), and the web guy just accidentally grabbed the wrong one. As if Kaloogian and his cohorts were backpacking across the Middle East and when they dropped the film off, Wal-Mart mixed up the rolls...

Here's what I think happened: Kaloogian or someone in the campaign decided to jump onto the "blame the media" bandwagon started last week by Bush and Cheney, and take their own shot at the "media's negative coverage." They directed the web guy to post a pleasant street scene and add the caption that the media is lying about the situation in Iraq.

That shows this whole thing was a fraud from the start...It's now obvious that pictures showing a safe Iraq street DO NOT EXIST IN THE "VAST" KALOOGIAN ARCHIVE AND NEVER DID! If they had any, they could simply have put one up after the Istanbul "mistake." But they couldn't.

They had no pictures of safe Iraqi neighborhoods, because they never saw any! Not that they don't exist—but that they didn't see them. But that didn't stop them. None of the details (like truth or accuracy) mattered—they never do. The only thing that mattered was finding the evidence to fit the talking point.

It seems likely to me that Kaloogian's "fact-finding mission" never even left the Green Zone. Even most seasoned correspondents stationed there don't, and I trust that a soft, rich San Diego businessman and a cadre of right-wing radio loudmouths on a junket aren't exactly put-their-necks-on-the-line-types. Even if they did tour the area, they never saw any safe, quiet streets like they claim or they would have documented it, and had the photos.

Kaloogian should have just pulled this thing when he got busted. Instead, like a defendant who insists on taking the stand against his lawyer's advice, he was stubborn and dug in deeper. Like Bush, he stuck to his guns when he shouldn't have. By posting the rooftop shot he exposed the fact that they never went out on the street, and never had an honest claim to make.


UPDATE: Of course the implication by Kaloogian that a photo refutes the media's claims that Iraq is a dangerous place is ridiculous. I'm sure Europeans took plenty of photos during the 40s that didn't include Nazis.

The irony is that this new photo looks exactly like the backdrop behind ninety percent of the reports from Baghdad. According to the logic Kaloogian applies, every "lying" report from Baghdad (see right) disproves itself...

You should go watch this report from Lara Logan at Crooks and Liars. She does a great job shooting down the accusations from Bush, Cheney, and hangers-on like Kalooogian that the media are misconstruing the events and situation in Iraq. The best part? When she dismantles the ridiculous 'Today Show' claim by Laura Ingrahm that the media simply "report from hotel balconies."

It now seems apparent that's all Kaloogian did.


Pooh said...

the police station shown has since been blown up.

Why didn't he take pictures of the all the police stations which haven't been blown up? What a maroon.

Pooh said...

Game over. Did I win? Sadly, NO!

S.W. Anderson said...

"The pictures from Iraq are reduced to two shots of him standing next to generals in a Green Zone tent . . ."

Exactly. No shots taken while out wandering the streets, meeting regular folks going about their daily business. Which tells you something.

BTW, I referenced your fine work on this at Oh!pinion.

Smitty said...

The Laura Ingram cvomment burns me the most of all. Someone should tell Ms. Ingram, who sits in her poofy chair in a studio surrounded by brick and steel, that she should make her "reporting from hotel balconies" comment to the CBS journalist and CBS cameraman who were blown the fuck up reporting the news the way it ought to be reported.

Mr Furious said...

Yeah, it's not like Ingram is even brave enough to broadcast from the Empire State Building like Hewitt...

Loudmouths like Ingram like to hang their hat on running over to Iraq and doing a week of shows from the Green Zone as if that's the equivelent of what Dan Rather did in Afganistan or Al Gore did in VietNam.

The best part of the whole Logan clip is at the very end. (Paraphrasing here...) Logan rips Ingram apart for making those comments from the safety of the Today show studio, and Kurtz pipes up with "In fairness to Ingram, she just went to Iraq for eight days."

Logan blurts dismissively, "Pshaw, eight days..."

[end clip]