Mark Mardell and Andrew North Caught Spinning For The White House

Just the other day, both Mark Mardell and Andrew North defended the President’s position that the current US involvement in the war against Libya is legal and He doesn’t need Congress’s permission to continue. Mardell’s contention was that it was just a political attack by His enemies, those nasty Republicans, looking for a cheap attack line. To further push the Narrative that there is no legal problem and it’s just a partisan talking point, Mardell suggested that Speaker Boehner was merely reacting to the Republican candidates bringing it up in the recent debate. In other words, the BBC’s explanation is: Republican monkey see, Republican monkey do. Nothing to see here, move along.

I commented on Mardell’s spin in a previous open thread here, and Craig pointed out in a reply that North took the same Narrative in another report.

Except as it turns out, there really is a legal issue. Both the Pentagon General Counsel and the State Justice Dept.’s (h/t John Anderson) legal adviser told the President that we’re in too deep, and that the situation meets the legal definition of “hostilities”. And The Obamessiah, He who was supposed to end Bush’s illegal wars and redeem the US, blew them off. He says He doesn’t need anyone’s permission to continue bombing the crap out of any Muslim He chooses. The silence from the anti-war crowd is deafening, as is the silence from the BBC asking why that is. But I digress.

It’s so bad that, not only has the New York Times reported it, but reality has once again forced the BBC to report it as well, Read this article and ask yourselves if it doesn’t mean that Mardell and North were lying. They’ve been caught disseminating White House talking points.

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22 Responses to Mark Mardell and Andrew North Caught Spinning For The White House

  1. NotaSheep says:

    For perspective on this story just imagine how the BBC would have covered this story had it been George W. Bush as President overriding such advice. Somehow the “illegal war” narrative might have been given more prominence. The BBC’ s bias is so obvious it would be laughable were it not so blatant and anti-democratic.


    • John Anderson says:

      Yes,  if this had been George Bush,  the BBC would have been screaming blue murder !


  2. Umbongo says:


    Not only does Mardell’s “journalism” lack the quality of impartiality, he obviously has no idea how the US constitution works.  As far as he’s concerned Obama has the power of a British prime minister without the necessity to have a half an hour a week of the circus of PMQs combined with the respect due to the Queen.  Cameron can go to war, basically, by “advising” the Queen to exercise her prerogative.  He might stage a debate in the Commons and obtain a positive vote there but – legally – he doesn’t require it.  Sure Parliament can refuse supply to stop a war but how likely is that?

    The US – unlike the UK – is still a country of laws and the rule of law.  Even He hasn’t changed that – yet (although he’s giving it his best shot). That there can be a bi-partisan legal challenge to the Great Redeemer is, in Mardell’s eyes, not just a complete surprise but lèse majesté as well.

    Despite his general incompetence and general partisanship, that Mardell keeps his job is hardly surprising.  After all he’s only reflecting both the low expectations of BBC “journalism” and proclaiming the – BBC supported – tenets of the Church of Obama.  In a decent organisation dedicated to informed balanced reportage he’d be out on his ear – together with most of his colleagues.


  3. john in cheshire says:

    As I have said before, I hate the bbc; and for me, it’s visceral. I can’t think of anything they could do to make me change my mind. Other than collectively commit seppuku.


  4. John Anderson says:


    Good stuff.  But the VERY senior lawyers whose view was that US actions on Libya amount to hostilities were the General Counsel to the Pentagon (as you say) and the Acting Head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel – not the State Department lawyer – who had given an opposing opinion.

    Your central point remains.  2 top lawyers in Departments directly involved said that the President needs authority from Congress to continue the Libya stuff.

    I had seen US reports on this yesterday.  Therefore Mardell and North had seen such reports. They had no right to dismiss the issue as something that the Repubs had dreamed up.

    The lawyers saying that Obama did not need Congress approval were the Dtate Department guy – and a lawyer in the White House.

    Which makes them shills for the White House. 

    Sure – it is Obama’s right to dismiss legal advice if he has opposing advice.  But as the arguments appear so finely balanced – would not an honourable course be to put the issue to Congress. 

    The REAL reason Obama decided not to ask Congress for approval was that the Libya stuff is deeply unpopular in America.

    Did Mardell and North mention that small factor ?

    Par for the course.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Thanks for the correction. I thought it was DOJ then somehow the brain supplied State.  Fixed and noted in the post.

      The thing is, it’s a complete lie to say that Boehner this is a recent partisan attack prompted by it being brought up in the candidates’ debate.  DB made a post about the War Powers Act issue, and how the BBC ignored it, on May 24.  It’s not recent, and it’s not a non-starter ginned up for election purposes.  It’s the White House talking point – no doubt downloaded into Beeboid brains by Katty Kay’s personal friend, the White House mouthpiece Jay Carney – that it’s nothing but a partisan fake-out.  So both Mardell and North tell you to believe it.


      • John Anderson says:

        It appears to be worse than a 2-2 draw between lawyers.  Evidently on major legal issues the President looks to the Justice Department to gather views – and for the Office of General Counsel at the Justice Department then to give its “senior” view in a formal determination.  The Acting General Counsel in the OGC at the Justice Department advised that Libya does amount to hostilities – but her view was not taken as primus inter pares,  it was just set alongside the other views.   A tacked process.

        But slippery Obama gets a clean pass from the BBC – and the Republicans get the raspberry.

        Obama side-stepped this accusomed pracgtice on this one.  Obviously they wanted an easy path to read


        • hippiepooter says:

          I guess Mardell would argue that he didn’t know then what he knows now, but that would be no defence at all.  With what he knew at the time his piece is blatant partisanship.  
          The following day 10 bipartisan lawmakers issued suit against the Presdident for violating the War Powers Act.  Doesn’t the BBC’s North America Correspondent have his ear to the ground?  Is it really credible that he wouldn’t have been aware of bipartisan soundings against the President’s conduct prior to putting fingers to keyboard?  
          Mardell is a patent propagandist and it is truly chilling how Orwellian the BBC is to have such a man in his position.  We know that in the corridors of the BBC there’ll be no blowback against him whatsoever, apart from maybe ‘well done, but take care of what might be around the corner, we dont want to make it too obvious whose side we’re on’.


  5. Gerald says:

    When Obama was over here starring in the “King’s new clothes” recently I did muse on what rent-a-mob might have been up to if it had been  McCain visiting and he had done the same as Obama over Libya!


  6. John Anderson says:

    Another saying that Obama has acted wrongly :

    It is ridiculous that the views of White House Counsel – trhe President’s legal poodle – should be considered a valid source of legal advice to countermand the OLC at the Justice Department.

    Where are all the peace protestors on this one ?


  7. Louis Robinson says:

    Mardell writes: “It is likely. Mr Boehner is acting under pressure from his own Republican colleagues who are sensitive to any suggestion they are being ignored”.
    Now I write: “It is likely Mr. Mardell is repeating conversation being shared by members of the NY/Washington elites like Tina Brown, Ariana Huffington and the lap dogs of George Soros”.
    Neither Mardell or I have produced a shred of evidence for their assertions.
    I can’t.
    Neither does Mardell.
    My point? since when has a BBC correspondent rested an opinion on the words “It is likely”. IT IS LIKELY!?! Who says? Get serious.  


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Who says?  White House Spokesman Jay Carney says. Yet even as early as May 25 – more than two weeks before Mardell’s post – there was bi-partisan criticism:

      Obama Shies Away From Libya Address

      While members of Congress ask President Barack Obama to provide a strategic rationale for our military attack on Libya, the president is avoiding the delivery of a speech to the public explaining exactly what we’re up to, Politico reports.

      That’s because he doesn’t want to make Libya out to be a real war for the United States like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama hasn’t ruled out a major speech, but he doesn’t want to give one before our military transfers most command and combat duties to allies.

      Even Democrats criticize the president for his reticence.

      “I think he needs to face the nation and tell the nation, and tell Congress, what the end game is and how this is going to play out,” Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday.

      Mardell and North knew this.  But instead they lied to you in order to support the leader of a foreign country.


  8. David Preiser (USA) says:

    What’s this?

    NATO Admits to 9 Civilian Deaths in Libyan Airstrike

    Libya’s government said NATO warplanes struck a residential neighborhood in the capital Sunday and killed nine civilians, including two children. Hours later, NATO confirmed one of its airstrikes went astray.

    Good thing that Mr. Haw-Haw has passed away, otherwise I’m sure he’d be quite upset about this latest Western butchery of innocents.  Oh, wait, sorry, he wasn’t protetsting against the war on Libya, only Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Still, given this latest illegal slaughter of innocents by Western imperialist warmongers deserves righteous protest, no?  So cue the BBC bringing in the anti-war crowd to express the outrage in 3…2….1…..ZZZZzzzzzzz


  9. hippiepooter says:

    DP, your post is a true ‘fingers in the cookie jar moment’.  I hope it gets picked up further afield.  It is truly scandalous.


  10. Louis Robinson says:

    Correct David Preiser. If there is any good that has come out of the last three years of hell we have lived through, it is that the left have been exposed as the hypocritical bigots they are. On every front they have put their politics above their “beleifs”. Where are the anti-war people? Where is the women’s movement? Where is open government?
    The sadness is that a succession of BBC correspondents have been beguiled by the Democrats. “It is likely” they share the same beliefs, if not the same beds.


  11. Louis Robinson says:

    Correction above on the spelling of “beliefs’: ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’.
    Note: I must calm down before posting.


  12. Phu says:

    The BBC doesn’t consider “the law” to be an obstruction to anything it considers otherwise justifiable.

    Case in point: UK member ship of the EU is illegal without conset of the population. BBC cares not about “the law”…. for the EU is wonderful!

    — Richard


  13. Louis Robinson says:

    Thanks David, but your last posting leads me to ask what might be a naive question: why does a BBC reporter (Katty Kay) need a “business partner. Isn’t she on an exclusive BBC contract? 


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Louis, Katty has a second career outside the BBC.  She has a book out and a whole little cottage industry called “Womenomics”.  Her partner is Jay Carney’s wife, Claire Shipman.  It’s not broadcast media, so no exclusivity issues. Their Womenomics blog efforts seem to have fizzled out not long after the book launch, but both Katty and Claire make the rounds of various women’s conferences for speech appearances – at $12,500 a pop! – about the concept.

      Also, Katty Kay uses her BBC-labeled Twitter account to promote it.