Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Elephant In The Room

The New York Times, now only half-jokingly known as "America's newspaper of record," today succeeds in ignoring the elephant in the room in an editorial entitled "Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials."

The Times rightfully castigates President Bush for his outrageous diversionary tactics on the questions of pre-war intelligence, but appears not to understand (or at least acknowledge) it's own role in propagandizing the nation in the months leading up to war.

The newspaper grasps at some straws:

Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence.

What goes unsaid here is that at the time the U.S. had no decent intelligence contacts in Iraq, while several of our allies most certainly did. Turkey and Israel are two obvious examples.

There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons.

Really? The two countries I just named have never weighed in publicly, but cannot have had information supporting such an assertion since the claim turned out to be untrue.

The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own.

They believed on the basis of what evidence? It is more likely that the administration knew there was no intelligence indicating Iraqi possession of WMD, but that during a thorough post-invasion search of the country, something would turn up. That's not a good enough basis to attack a sovereign nation.

Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

The New York Times is also rewriting history by omission of even the slightest allusion to Judy Miller's role in selling the war. After all, as anyone in the Washington policy world knows, Senators and U.S. Representatives often pay no attention to actual intelligence analyses and pay a great deal of attention to the New York Times.


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