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Countdown clarifies ‘Special Comment’

You may remember Mr. Bush had used a cumbersome phrase to describe insurgents in Iraq: "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives."

Last Wednesday, I quoted the phrase to say that Mr. Bush had now also given America "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives."

I identified them as Mr. Bush's personnel "those in or formerly in your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes." I also described the chaos of post-invasion Iraq, with "an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind" Mr. Bush's skirts.

No writer nor broadcaster is ever as clear and precise as he thinks he is.

Television goes by quickly and the viewer is not provided a copy of a script.

So it is possible that reasonable viewers might have been confused by exactly to whom I referred, especially considering I edited the original line: "Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives? They are called your cabinet. And your Pentagon."

During the editing process it seemed that was a little broad, that there appear to be men in both places, General Ricardo Sanchez, former Secretary of State Powell, perhaps even Secretary of Defense Gates, who did not merit inclusion in that list.

Obviously, my use of Mr. Bush's phrase "cold-blooded killers" did not refer to U.S. troops.

I have never had anything but the highest respect for them and their sacrifice.

This newscast constantly advocates their causes, their needs, our collective debt to them.

And we constantly call out the Administration's failure to honor them, to protect them, to stop the Pentagon from sticking a band-aid on those whose hearts and minds are broken and send them back for another tour.

The U.S. troops in Iraq, even those few who have done bad things, are victims in this equation.

And most are the proverbial innocent bystanders.

My use of Mr. Bush's phrase "cold-blooded killers" referred not to them, but rather those former and current members of Mr. Bush's administration and Pentagon who so irresponsibly unleashed the hounds of war, and may indeed some day face war crimes trials.

And that phrase "merciless mercenaries" seemed to be self-explanatory.

Neither are these U.S. troops, not when there are literally mercenaries in Mr. Bush's employ, principally from Blackwater-USA, who literally shot unarmed Iraqis, most infamously in a massacre in Baghdad last September.

But strangely, when the terms "cold-blooded killers" and "mercenaries" were used in a public forum, my critics in the lunatic fringe, rather than even considering that the criticism even might be directed at the Pentagon or the Administration or Blackwater-USA, immediately decided that these were descriptions of our American heroes fighting in Iraq.

It is perhaps instructive, that to the right-wing commentators, and the right-wing blogs, those terms should first evoke not the war-mongers of the Pentagon or the gun-men from Blackwater but U.S. troops.

I cannot imagine that kind of evil knee-jerk reflex.

I feel very sorry for those who have shown it.

It seems to me that these right-wingers have inadvertently shown their true colors, their instinctive hatred of and contempt for, these self-sacrificing Americans, who have been needlessly placed in harm's way by these very commentators and the politicians they support.

They hear criticism of our nation's collective conduct in Iraq, and immediately assume it's the fault of the soldiers.

In the wake of an insult that exists only in their minds and never in my words nor in my heart, there remains, I think, only one question to ask:

Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin: why do you hate our troops?