Monday, April 10, 2006


Old News is News Again

Scott Johnson at Powerline digs into the media archives for a revealing comparison of current hyperventilation over President Bush’s 2003 declassification of portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

Johnson extracts from AP and Knight-Ridder news stories from July 2003, and convincingly demonstrates that current reporting is a virtual regurgitation of 2003 reporting. Scott presents both stories, then concludes:

Note that these stories show what we all know: the release of the NIE report was part of an attempt to quell the political uproar that was starting to build over what Bush did and did not know before the war. The stories also show that the "leak," while criticized for being "selective," included the State Department minority opinion -- material more than sufficient for most MSM stories written after the briefing to be negative!

The only new element of the story that was added last week via Patrick Fitzgerald's brief is that President Bush, according to Cheney according to Libby, authorized the release of the NIE report ten days earlier than the July 18 briefing that was widely reported, and that they disclosed it to Judith Miller, who didn't write about it. On the contrary, however, today's New York Times story reports that Bush only authorized the declassification and release of the NIE report, not the manner of its disclosure specifically to Judith Miller on July 8. Nevertheless, Kenneth Bazinet's representative New York Daily News story that I wrote about here on Saturday reports, for example, that Fitzgerald's probe uncovered Bush's role in the "leak" of the NIE. Yet it bears repeating that the Knight Ridder headline on July 19, 2003 was: "Bush Releases Excerpts of Top-Secret Iraq Report."

The correspondent who forwarded this material to us comments: "That Fitzgerald is one helluva digger, able to ferret out this stuff that was in the headlines [three] years ago..." And don't these reporters deserve credit for making everything old new again?

John Hinderaker adds:

They also deserve credit--or, more properly, blame--for distorting the conclusions of the NIE beyond recognition. By emphasizing footnotes, they deliberately convey the impression that the document is one of "division" and "uncertainty." No such division or uncertainty was expressed, however, in the Consensus Intelligence Estimate's conclusions:

Confidence Levels for Selected Key Judgments in This Estimate

High Confidence

Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.

We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.

Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material

Moderate Confidence

Iraq does not yet have a nuclear weapon or sufficient material to make one but is likely to have a weapon by 2007 to 2009.

Gateway Pundit presents a more detailed chronology for those remaining few who don’t know the sequence of events, and actually want to read something informative. Gateway Pundit concludes that current reporting results from mainstream media (MSM) outrage that President Bush was willing to use actual intelligence to confront distortions, lies and other fabrications (some committed by Joe Wilson, some perpetrated by MSM accomplices).

Gateway Pundit also points to a well researched and balanced editorial (with short chronology included) in The Washington Post. While the Post faults the Bush Administration for clumsiness in the affair, the Post’s lead sentence obliterates the moral hyperventilation of Bush critics:

PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do. But the administration handled the release clumsily, exposing Mr. Bush to the hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy that Democrats are leveling.

Precisely these kinds of measured, balanced stances underscore and emphasize the differences between the Post and, say the NY Times. The Post editorial by all appearances maintains a continuity of historical record, and seems to care that they do. The occasional zeal with which The Washington Post mashes partisan hash is most probably due to a typical kind of press excess. “If it bleeds it leads,” as we always hear. But never so much as to blatantly or obviously step away from Truth with a capital “T.”

While the Editors at the NY Times, the “Paper of Record” as they would like to be remembered, refuse altogether to maintain any sense of history, objectivity, or even factual accuracy.

Original tips and additional reporting via Instapundit, Blue Crab Boulevard,

Captain's Quarters, and Mudville Gazette.

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