Knucklehead of the Year Awards

The 2006 Knucklehead of the Year Awards have been announced, and former President Jimmy Carter has taken top honors, beating out the New York Times and Duke rape trial prosecutor Mike Nifong.

Carter won for pronouncements about Israel’s “unjustified attack on Lebanon” and the Times for its reporting on Top Secret intelligence operations, notably the Swift program tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

Like fellow judge Steven Taylor, I would have given the award to Nifong. He has engaged in months of public grandstanding, at the cost of considerable misery to falsely accused young men, despite it having been obvious almost from the beginning even to outsiders that the accusers had zero credibility and that there was zero evidence backing up the accusations.

By contrast, Carter’s views on Israel have gotten much more extreme over the years but his frustration with the attacks on Lebanon was at least understandable.

And, while I think the NYT should have kept the Swift program under its hat, the natural inclination of newspapers is to publish important, interesting information when they obtain it. It’s not as if they published information on troop movements or put spies in danger. The persons deserving of a Knucklehead Award (not to mention serious time at Leavenworth) are those who broke their oath and revealed the program to the press.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    How could Bush not be nominated? His cluelessness and desperate flip flopping make him the world’s # 1 knucklehead.

  2. Tano says:

    I think y’all should have given the award to yourselves.

    When one thinks of all the truly knucklehead actions taken this past year, some with global impact, the choices you make, in fact the finalist list that you come up with, is just so utterly detached from reality as to be deserving of some kind of very special recognition. What are you guys thinking?

    And to the specifics. What on earth is “extreme” about Carter’s views on Israel? Have you actually read his book? I think he fits quite comfortably to the slight left of center of Israeli public opinion. Granted that makes him a voice rarely heard in the great free marketplace of ideas – the US, but how is it extreme?

    And what is knucklehead about pointing out the obvious – that viewing Hezbollah’s kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as an attack on Israel by Lebanon as a whole – and launching a war against much of the country in response, was something other than a wise reaction?

  3. I admit that it is close between Nifong and Carter, but I have to go with Carter. Nifong is just undermining the trust in the judicial system and practicing an extreme form of the class hatred of the democratic left.

    Carter is trying to bring down one of the few functioning democracies in that part of the world and encouraging those who would make the holocaust look like a warm up show.

    Quantity has a quality all its own.

  4. Kent G. Budge says:

    We jail folks who receive stolen goods. How is this different from the New York Times knowingly receiving stolen information?

  5. LJD says:

    My nomination goes to Tano, for not knowing the difference between a link and an original post. No wonder you are so dissatisfied with your surroundings.