Monday, April 10, 2006

Worst. Editorial. Ever.

From one of our major national "papers of record" at least (excluding WSJ, whose news reporting meets the standard but whose editorializing is barely fit for NewsMax).

For quite some time now, going back at least to its credulous endorsement of Bush's Folly in Iraq, Fred Hiatt (opinion page editor of "liberal" -- in wingnut orthodoxy -- WaPo) has been doing his best impression of Anakin Skywalker's (unconvincing) gradually increasing nasty deceptiveness through the first portion of Revenge of the Sith.

Today WaPo openly declares fealty to the Dark Side, including full-throated repetition of long-debunked Zombie Lies (no matter how many times you kill them, they just keep coming back). (Atrios: "The tendency of our elite conventional wisdom generators to cling to the official story, no matter how full of bullshit it is, is startling." Indeed.)

This good fact-check provides most of the needed de-bunking, so I won't repeat it. But WaPo's determination to look right past the most fundamental problem with Bush's leaking -- it's self-serving, deceptive selectivity -- is nothing short of stunning. Wapo's lede and final sentences:

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.

. . .

As Mr. Fitzgerald pointed out at the time of Mr. Libby's indictment last fall, none of this is particularly relevant to the question of whether the grounds for war in Iraq were sound or bogus. It's unfortunate that those who seek to prove the latter would now claim that Mr. Bush did something wrong by releasing for public review some of the intelligence he used in making his most momentous decision.
"Some", in particular, which "some", is obviously the key matter here, but WaPo pretends to not even notice this.

The reason this leak is not just not "A Good Leak" (the editorial's preposterous title), but clearly, indisputably, simply WRONG, is this selectivity -- with the selection based not on legitimate national security concerns (the valid basis for classification) but on purely self-serving calculation of political advantage. This is simply the most recent in Bush and his lackeys' long, consistent pattern of selective declassification for character assassination of opponents or other perceived political advantage; from initial declassified version of October 2002 NIE purged of all dissents and caveats, through the unfulfilled threat of selective declassification aimed to discredit Richard Clarke, to the just-revealed declassification for leak to Judy Miller of only the Bush-serving still-classified bits of the NIE. (Miller:

According to my interview notes, though, it appears that Mr. Libby said little more than that the assessments of the classified estimate were even stronger than those in the unclassified version.
In fact, if Miller's account is accurate, the exact opposite was true. The caveats and dissents that indicated just how weak the case was are the parts that were kept classified.)

Have I suggested that WaPo's determination to ignore this fundamentally crucial element is shocking, indefensible, incomprehensible (unless its purpose is deliberately misleading)? Yes, I think I probably have at least implied as much.

What Liberal Media, again?

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