The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

from the Newsweek story by Isikoff and Hosenball on the Administrations WMD games.

Miller, who had been among the most aggressive reporters in the country writing stories about the threat posed by Iraqi WMD, was quoted in a New York Times article that accompanied her piece last Sunday as saying for the first time" "WMD-I got it totally wrong. The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them-we were all wrong."

Today, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need for a federal "shield" law to protect journalists from having to disclose their sources, she elaborated a bit: "As I painfully learned while covering intelligence estimates of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, we are only as good as our sources. If they are mistaken, we will be wrong." She made no reference to Libby.

Got it wrong? How about were lied to?

Whatever the implications for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's probe, Miller describes a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, on July 8, 2003, where he appears to significantly misrepresent the contents of still-classified material from a crucial prewar intelligence-community document about Iraq.

With no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq and new questions being raised about the case for war, Libby assured Miller that day that the still-classified document, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contained even stronger evidence that would support the White House's conclusions about Iraq's weapons programs, according to Miller's account.
In fact, a declassified version of the NIE was publicly released just 10 days later, and it showed almost precisely the opposite. The NIE, it turned out, contained caveats and qualifiers that had never been publicly acknowledged by the administration prior to the invasion of Iraq. It also included key dissents by State Department intelligence analysts, Energy Department scientists and Air Force technical experts about some important aspects of the administration's case.

There were lots of analysts who got it right. It was the Press, and in particular the WaPo and the Times who got it wrong by swallowing hook line and sinker the tall tales coming from the White House. It is clear that analysts for the Energy Dept and State and the Air Force could see the case was not black and white. The media would like us to believ that everyone was singing from the same hymn book but they weren't. The Times, in its mea culpa and the Post too both said that they blew this story because everyone took for granted that Saddam had WMD. It was a given. But it was only a given if you weren't willing to do the work or ask the hard questions.

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