Tags: Mike | Wallace | Caught | Anti-U.S. | Distortion | Terrorism

Mike Wallace Caught in Anti-U.S. Distortion on Terrorism

Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM

At a panel discussion Wednesday of the prominent, mostly non-governmental Kuwaitis, Wallace’s name came up when two of the visitors were pinpointing U.S. journalists who leave the impression that Arab public opinion, beyond the Muslim extremists, is opposed to the U.S.-led war against terrorism.

Faisal Ali Al-Mutawa, an executive of one of Kuwait’s leading enterprises, recounted how Wallace and the "60 Minutes” crew visited his country and shot two-and-a-half hours of film interviewing 30 citizens, including Islamist MPs and students.

Of the 30 Wallace talked to, 28 were pro-U.S., 1 abstained, and 1 was strongly opposed to the U.S. and its effort.

Wallace’s Kuwaiti hosts were shocked when on "60 Minutes” Nov. 18, the TV host "showed only the one extremist” and made it appear that he was representative of those interviewed.

The Kuwaiti Embassy in Washington received a flood of e-mails expressing dismay and disappointment. The "60 Minutes" program drove a wedge between the U.S. and its anti-terrorist friends and that, of course, plays into the hands of the terrorists.

"I don’t understand that,” said panelist Ahmed Bishara, a journalist and publisher.

"The U.S. media is always looking for the odd man out, and that is unfair to us that they should choose those who are negative,” he said at the panel session organized by the Kuwait Information Office.

"They should show both sides,” agreed Al-Mutawa.

The comments were prompted by a questioner who said the U.S. press often covers the Middle East "in a less-than-illuminating way.”

The Kuwaitis said they had made plans to have dinner with Wallace when they visit New York on their U.S. tour. Ever the diplomats, the Kuwait Information Office said the group appreciated that the CBS correspondent had "graciously” agreed to make time on a Friday night to hear them out.

Several of the panelists praised President Bush for

Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein are the "center of worldwide terrorism,” Al-Mutawa told NewsMax.com just before the panel meeting. Once Hussein is eliminated, he added, the terrorist threat would be "under control.” Not eliminated, but manageable. Even Iran can be dealt with, once Hussein is off the world stage, he said.

Further, he added, the U.S. should not be concerned about those in the coalition who may want the U.S. to confine its retaliation to Afghanistan.

"President Bush has taken the lead, and you are a superpower,” the Kuwaiti entrepreneur told NewsMax. "You should use this momentum to do what has to be done to lead the fight against terrorism.”

Several panel members shared the focus on Iraq as central to the terrorist threat, not surprising because Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991.

Whatever illusions any of them might have had about Saddam were dashed by that ultimate act of hostility.

Mohammed Jassem Al-Saquer, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Kuwaiti parliament, said he had interviewed Hussein no less than five times. He recalled that the Iraqi dictator had told him on May 2, 1990 that if any Arab army occupied another Arab country, all Arabs should "stand up and fight that invading army.”

This is the same Saddam Hussein who himself invaded another Arab country exactly three months later.

To think "I thought he was a friend,” the Kuwaiti legislator remarked.

Dr. Ali A. Al-Tarrah, dean of Kuwait University’s College of Social Sciences, said those Americans who wonder about such anti-American feeling as does exist among Arabs might want to note that the U.S. and the West are viewed as sponsors of unpopular Arab governments.

"You might want to reconsider your relations with those governments” that don’t implement reforms, he advised. The touring group is top-heavy with mainstream reformers from Kuwait.

The delegation, which had scheduled stops in London, Washington and New York, is supporting the Western-led coalition effort to "eradicate terror, root and branch,” as Kuwait’s acting prime minister and foreign minister put it in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

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At a panel discussion Wednesday of the prominent, mostly non-governmental Kuwaitis, Wallace's name came up when two of the visitors were pinpointing U.S. journalists who leave the impression that Arab public opinion, beyond the Muslim extremists, is opposed to the U.S.-led...
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2002-00-30
Wednesday, 30 January 2002 12:00 AM
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