“Look[ing] for facts amid a sea of crap” : “Gunny” Bob Newman's book features distortions, smears, and an affinity for “destruction and carnage”

As Colorado Media Matters has documented repeatedly, Newsradio 850 KOA host “Gunny” Bob Newman frequently promotes conservative falsehoods; smears Democrats, progressives, and Muslims; and makes outlandish, unsubstantiated accusations on his show. In his most recent book, released in September 2006, Newman provided more of the same: Minefields to Microphones contains numerous distortions and inflammatory attacks on liberals and others.

On page 148 of his latest book, Minefields to Microphones: Global Asymmetric Warfare, the Radical Left, and Winning the War on Terror (Paladin Press), Newsradio 850 KOA host “Gunny” Bob Newman stated that he has “always looked for facts amid a sea of crap.” Perhaps Newman should have spent a little more time out at sea. Colorado Media Matters' review of the book, which is touted on the back cover as “long dreaded by liberal hate merchants,” found it contains numerous distortions of sources' quotes. Newman's book also presents, through his own words, his fondness for what he often graphically describes as “destruction and carnage.”

Currently embroiled in a controversy over bigoted comments he made on his May 8 broadcast regarding Muslim immigrants, Newman is scheduled to release another book, The War for America: Liberal Extremism, Moral Turpitude, and High Crimes and Misdemeanors (Cumberland House Publishing), in June.

Despite Newman's track record of issuing falsehoods and engaging in personal smears on his program, former Republican Gov. Bill Owens “commended” Newman on the publication of Minefields to Microphones and proclaimed September 16, 2006, “Gunny Bob Day,” shortly after the book's release in September 2006.

According to his biography on KOA's website, Newman is "[o]ne of the world's most respected authorities on terrorism, guerrilla warfare, special operations, survival and security" and “is well known for his uncanny ability to precisely predict the nature and location (by country) of terrorist attacks months, even years in advance.” The website also claims that Newman is "[t]he author of nearly 2,000 articles and columns that have appeared in dozens of publications, as well as 19 non-fiction books, including the very popular Guerrillas in the Mist: A Battlefield Guide to Clandestine Warfare, Marine Special Warfare & Elite Unit Tactics, and Wilderness Wayfinding: How to Survive in the Wilderness as You Travel." Newman also has appeared as an expert source on such networks as MSNBC.

As Colorado Media Matters has documented repeatedly, Newman has echoed a number of conservative falsehoods, personal smears, outlandish accusations, and racist comments on his radio show. Minefields to Microphones follows the same path.

"[H]ate-filled" human rights organizations

On pages 74-75 of the book, Newman cited an April 30, 2005, CNN report about a mass grave discovered in Samawa, Iraq, “thought to contain the remains of as many as 1,500 Kurds killed in the 1980s.” According to Newman, “108 of the 113 bodies removed [from the grave] to date were those of women and children.”

Calling Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) “hate-filled, anti-freedom organizations,” Newman wrote of his “total absence of surprise” when he searched their websites and “found not so much as a mention” of the Samawa mass grave atrocity “on either site.” Newman concluded by saying, “For those people who hate America, the next time you are digging a mass grave that you and your family will soon be thrown into after a shot to the back of the head, give Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch a jingle. I'm sure they'll be right over to save you.”

Contrary to Newman's baseless characterization of the organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have focused a great deal of attention on the atrocities committed during Saddam Hussein's rule, even though it is possible neither organization referred directly to the April 30, 2005, CNN article about the discovery of a mass grave in Samawa.

Amnesty International's website details numerous atrocities committed under Saddam. In its report “Decades of human rights abuse in Iraq,” the group explained that in 1991 -- partly in response to human rights abuses “in and around al-Samawa town” -- it “took the unprecedented step of urging the UN to establish an international on-site human rights monitoring operation in Iraq to prevent torture, killings and other abuses by government forces.” Its website further states that “AI delegates visited Iraq in January 1983 and raised allegations of widespread torture of political detainees, the lack of legal safeguards for political detainees, and the large number of executions for political offences.”

Additionally, according to Amnesty International's website:

For many years AI has been gathering data and campaigning on human rights abuses in Iraq. In April [of 2003], for the first time in 20 years, AI was able to interview witnesses and relatives of victims inside Iraq, something that was unthinkable under the previous government. They spoke to witnesses of mass executions, and to victims of torture and incommunicado detention, as well as to many who were searching for missing family members, including children.

The people of Iraq have a right to learn the full truth about the fate and whereabouts of the “disappeared” , and to see the perpetrators of human rights violations brought to justice. AI is concerned that evidence related to the “disappearances” may be lost, destroyed or interfered with in the aftermath of the [Iraq] conflict.

Similarly, a commentary written by Human Rights Watch researchers that was posted on the organization's website and published in the Los Angeles Times on April 27, 2003, noted, “More than 250,000 people were detained or murdered by the government of Saddam Hussein, and almost all of them have relatives who now want justice, or physical remains, or at the very least information about what happened to their loved ones.” An April 30, 2003, press release posted on HRW's website urged coalition forces to secure and investigate Iraqi mass graves, citing reports that the grave sites were not secure and that important evidence “that can bring the perpetrators of ... atrocities to justice” was possibly being destroyed.

Moreover, “Human Rights Watch has directly identified several mass grave sites [in Iraq] where bodies have been removed for reburial without any forensic analysis,” according to a May 11, 2003, press release, also posted on HRW's website. The release called on coalition forces to “immediately secure sites of potential mass graves in order to preserve the evidence necessary for identifying the remains and initiating prosecutions against human rights violators.”

“Outright lies” : Newman on Kerry and Edwards

In several passages, Newman distorted quotes from others to support his contention that U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (MA) and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards (NC) -- the Democratic Party's ticket in the 2004 presidential election -- issued “outright lies” during the course of the campaign.

On page 84, for example, Newman distorted a statement Edwards made at an October 10, 2004, campaign stop to claim that “during the campaign ... Edwards told a glossy-eyed crowd that if John Kerry was elected, the paralyzed would walk out of their wheelchairs.” Newman did not mention that Edwards was talking about federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and he merely echoed Matt Drudge's doctored quotation of Edwards' original statement, as Media Matters for America has noted. The doctored quotation first appeared on the right-wing gossip website The Drudge Report on October 12, 2004. Drudge reported:

EDWARDS: 'When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again' ...

Here's what Edwards actually said at an October 10, 2004, campaign event in Iowa:

EDWARDS: Christopher Reeve just passed away. And America just lost a great champion for this cause. Somebody who is a powerful voice for the need to do stem cell research and change the lives of people like him, who have gone through the tragedy. Well, if we can do the work that we can do in this country -- the work we will do when John Kerry is president -- people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.

As Colorado Media Matters noted, Edwards did not say that a Kerry victory would allow the “paralyzed” to walk again. Rather, after mentioning that paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve had died earlier that day, Edwards stated that “if we can do the work that we can do in this country [stem cell research] -- the work we will do when John Kerry is president -- people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk.”

Newman also echoed a conservative smear against Kerry on page 87 when he claimed, “We lost 58,000 men in Vietnam. Kerry says many of those men were war criminals.” Although Newman provides no source for his characterization of Kerry's comments that a reader could verify, he apparently was referring to widely quoted Senate testimony Kerry gave in 1971. As Media Matters has noted repeatedly, Kerry -- who testified in his capacity as spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War -- simply related the horrific personal experiences of other Vietnam veterans who had come forward and told their stories. Kerry then focused blame for the atrocities those veterans claimed to have committed or witnessed on the leaders at that time, not the soldiers.

“Aid[ing] the enemy” : Newman repeated dubious conservative talking point about warrantless surveillance

Stating that "[p]rofit far outweighs life and national security at the infamous New York Times" on page 50 in the book's section about the Bush administration's secret domestic surveillance program, Newman erroneously claimed that the Times “placed in jeopardy an unknown number of surveillance operations against al Qaeda and thus aided the enemy, who now know that they must flee or change their communications methods.” Contrary to Newman's suggestion that the Times article forced Al Qaeda to change its “communications methods,” Al Qaeda reportedly had been taking precautions years before the Times revealed the warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005 to avoid surveillance of its cell phone conversations, notably through the use of untraceable disposable cell phones, as Media Matters has noted.

Further, investigative reporter Ron Suskind disclosed in The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon & Schuster, June 2006), that in late 2003 -- well before the Times broke the warrantless surveillance story -- the government's “carefully constructed global network of sigint [signals intelligence], and what can be called finint, or financial intelligence, started to go quiet” :

In short, al Qaeda, and its affiliates and imitators, stopped leaving electronic footprints. It started slowly, but then became distinct and clear, a definable trend. They were going underground.

[...]

It was a matter, really, of deduction. Enough people get caught and a view of which activities they had in common provides clues as to how they might have been identified and apprehended.

“We were surprised it took them so long,” said one senior intelligence official.

George Will similarly wrote in a February 16, 2006, Washington Post column:

Intelligence professionals reportedly say that the behavior of suspected terrorists has changed since Dec. 15, when the New York Times revealed the NSA surveillance. But surely America's enemies have assumed that our technologically sophisticated nation has been trying, in ways known and unknown, to eavesdrop on them.

“There's nothing so clarifying as standing among hundreds of dead bodies.”

In addition to distorting facts and smearing Democrats, Newman in his book makes numerous laudatory references to carnage, killing, and bloodshed.

For example, Newman said on page 209, “There's nothing so clarifying as standing among hundreds of dead bodies.” He elaborated by explaining he stood among dead bodies twice -- once in 1983 when 241 U.S. Marines died in the embassy bombing in Beirut “and the second time in Kuwait on the Highway to Hell, where hundreds of Iraqi soldiers paid the ultimate price for their crimes against humanity in a grisly, miles-long jumble of mangled vehicles on the road between Kuwait City and Basra." Newman continued, “Sometimes nightmares of the Beirut bodies haunt me, but the Highway to Hell bodies never invade my sleep, I suppose because the latter were scum-sucking bottom feeders who got what was coming to them.”

Newman didn't limit his affinity for destruction and carnage to the battlefield. Criticizing U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA), a retired Marine Corps colonel and Vietnam veteran who in 2005 proposed withdrawing troops from Iraq, Newman claimed on page 120 that many Marines “want his [Murtha's] head on a stake in the middle of the Marine Corps Commandant's lawn.” After saying on page 121 that Murtha “recently implied Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace is a liar,” Newman further stated that “Murtha is fortunate” Pace “did not demolish him, skin him, and build a hula hoop out of Murtha's spinal column and a kayak out of his rib cage.” According to Newman:

Furious Marines from wars as far back as World War II are spitting mad at the cowardly colonel [Murtha] and many want his head on a stake in the middle of the Marines Corps Commandant's lawn. Personally, I would not soil that good earth with so disgusting and despicable a piece of offal. (120)

On page 184, after complaining about airport screeners searching him and not two “Arabs” in line behind him, Newman described how he still managed to smuggle a weapon onto an airplane. He then described his abilities to take down imaginary terrorists -- all without spilling his drink:

Three months after 9-11, I was standing in a security line about to board a flight at Denver International Airport. I did not bother to disguise my disgust with the whimpering Americans in line with me who were complaining about the security line. And I was not surprised but nevertheless angered when the two security guards running the screening point beside the plane's door pulled me aside for a last moment search of my carry-on bag.

Why was I angry? The two fellows right behind me were Arabs in their twenties who quickly boarded the plane. As the two security personnel went through my bag, one asked for my identification. I handed him my Marine Corps and Clear Channel ID cards.

“I thought that was you, Gunny Bob,” the male security guard said. “I listen to you all the time and I've seen you on FOX News Channel.”

“Then why did you pull me out of line? You know I am one of the good guys,” I asked.

“Sorry Gunny, but the rules say we have to take the first person and the last person in line,” came the reply.

“Did you notice that the two guys right behind me were twenty-something Arab males?” I asked.

“Yes, Gunny, but we are not allowed to profile.”

“Jesus H. Christ man, does that make sense to you?” I asked. “You knowingly pull a retired Marine and well-known media personality out of line to see if he is a terrorist and let the two most likely bad guys onto the plane without a secondary search?”

“Sorry, Gunny. We're just doing our jobs. We don't write the rules but we do have to follow them,” came the sheepish, apologetic answer.

I boarded the plane and took my aisle seat in row number two, right behind the row where the two Arab males were seated. Around my neck beneath my shirt was hanging a ceramic fighting knife (non-detectable by magnetometers) on a quick-clip. (There was no way I was going to entrust my life and the lives of about 200 others in the hands of some just-over-minimum-wage flunkies.) If they made a move for the cockpit door during the flight, they'd be deader than Hoffa before they could say Allahu Akbar (Arabic for “God is great” ). By the time they hit the deck, they'd have more holes in them than an O.J. Simpson alibi. I probably wouldn't even spill my vodka martini.

Finally, on page 191 Newman wrote, “Sadly, my Marines and I, despite our best intentions, have been allowed to kill only a tiny fraction of those so richly deserving of a painful, graphic death.”

Liberals are “professional, unrepentant hate mongers”

Throughout his book, Newman resorts to the same hyperbolic and baseless accusations used by other conservative pundits to imply that liberals and Democrats are unpatriotic, treasonous, aligned with terrorists, and opposed to democracy in Iraq. Examples include:

Page 13: “Liberals cringe when they think of Iraqis enjoying freedoms they didn't have just over two years ago, and they become angry when the news reports a major reduction of attacks on U.S. troops along with a corresponding reduction of casualties.”

Page 14: “Arabs with rights are a liberal's worst nightmare.”

Page 119: “This vermin's [Murtha] demand for retreat, surrender, and negotiations with the enemy is so committed to assisting al Qaeda in their efforts in Iraq that he has posted his unspeakable demands on his website in the form of an official statement. The traitor, Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha, agrees 100 percent with Osama bin laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that the Marine Corps, which is mangling the enemy on a daily basis in Iraq and suffering comparatively light casualties, should lay down its arms, call it quits, and abandon the people they are defending in the fledgling democracy of Iraq.”

Page 163: “To be blunt, there are many American politicians on the left side of the aisle that do not want Iraq to become a democracy because of George W. Bush's decision to remove Saddam from power. When anti-freedom extremists like Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Robert Byrd, and their ilk say they hope it all works out, they are lying.”

Page 164: “I know what is really going on in the war on terror, and I know what is important when it comes to winning battles. While saddening, the death of a single soldier or Marine cannot effect the war on terror. The leftist media wants you to believe it can, which is one of the reasons why they tell you every time a soldier or Marine dies. The leftist media also tries very hard not to tell you little tidbits like a certain battle in Iraq that resulted in one Marine killed and 150-175 terrorists killed.”

Page 169: “No one should be surprised that the likes of Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Diane (sic) Feinstein, Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry, and Ted Kennedy want democracy to fail in Iraq. These hateful radicals are much more interested in solidifying their purchase on the tree of divisiveness by seeing President Bush's Iraq policy collapse than they are in seeing a bunch of Arabs acquire true freedom for the first time in Iraq's painful history. When these professional, unrepentant hate mongers say they are pro-democracy and pro-freedom for Iraqis, they are lying, for if democracy and freedom take hold in Iraq, President Bush wins and the leftists lose.”

Page 210: “Many Americans can't or won't understand this, some because they are simply too stupid or naïve to get a grip on the fact that we are at war with a monster that wants every American man, woman, and child dead, and others because of their blinding hatred for a president who is quite clearly willing to do his duty. In a weird sort of way, our enemy loves those who love John Kerry.”

Page 225: “The liberals really hate it when U.S. military action removes a maniacal, genocidal savage like Hussein and brutal regimes like the Taliban.”

Page 226: “If the radical left comes to power in 2008, as bin Laden is desperately hoping, we will pay dearly in the spectrum of conflict.”

Page 240: “Dimwitted diplomats, Democrat dandies, and limp-wristed liberals must be made to understand that, to win this war on terror, we must abandon their kinder, gentler, politically correct, overly sensitive approach to dealing with our foes and go straight for the jugular with the sharpened edge of an extended entrenching tool.”