Saturday, April 15, 2006

Howell and Hiatt Don't Get It

The lead editorial and a front-page story last Sunday on the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby leak case left many Post readers confused. ...

The Post editorially has supported the war, and the purpose of the editorial -- headlined "A Good Leak" -- was to support that leak as necessary to show that the president had reason to believe that Iraq was seeking uranium. The editorial said Bush "clumsily" handled the leak, leading to Democrats' "hyperbolic charges of misconduct and hypocrisy." (Don't expect newspapers to editorialize against leaks.)

The passage in the Post editorial that sent war critics round the bend was this one: " . . . Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium." ... ...

- Deborah Howell
It's not the Post readers who are confused. It's Deborah Howell who doesn't have her story straight. Obviously, she needs some help. No doubt it's tough still propping up the Post's pro-preemption line.

The New York Times also weighs in. It's not good, Deb.

... ...Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.

To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong. (In any case, Iraq's supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger happened four years before the invasion, and failed. The idea that this amounted to a current, aggressive and continuing campaign to build nuclear weapons in 2002 — as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney called it — is laughable.) ... ...
A Bad Leak
We all know it takes time to read the paper, but I'd suggest to Ms. Howell and Mr. Hiatt they take the time. This all could have been avoided if they cared about the facts of this issue more than propping up their opinion page, which has lost credibility with each passing day. But to talk about what President Bush did as "a good leak" not only defies the facts, it unmasks the true motives of the Post's main editorial, which gets the facts their own reporters are offering wrong in order to prop up the Post's pro-preemption position. Or are they trying to help the president? Nah.

Most of the people reading the Post are not confused. The same cannot be said for their management.

- Taylor Marsh


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Anonymous Cujo359 said...

Posted this today on the The WaPo Blog on Apr. 26. Let's see if it lasts as long as the ad for penis enlargement.

************************** WaPo Blog comment **************************

I wonder if anyone at the WaPo has read Executive Order 13292, which defines how classification of information is to be done by the Federal government. It's here, by the way:

Section 1.7 clearly states that it is illegal to classify information to hide an illegal action, or to prevent embarassment of a person or organization. And yet, even though the Bush Administration has violated this rule at least once, if not several times, the WaPo has not had anything to say in its editorial pages.

This is particularly interesting in the case of the black site network that Dana Priest wrote about. This is an illegal activity according to the War Crimes Act of 1996 (18 USC 2441). Alberto Gonzalez, who was in the White House Counel's office at the time, mentioned this in his memo concerning how the subject of torture and "rendition" should be handled legally in January 2002. They knew this was illegal, and they classified the program. Yet the people who are being punished over this aren't the government officials who made the decision, but the people who "leaked" information that was illegally classified to cover up a crime.

You'd think a real newspaper would back up its Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with a scalding editorial about this grotesque abuse of power. It would explain that the power to classify information, and thus hide it from its citizens, is a trust that only the most craven would deliberately violate. Instead, we have some nameless GOP shill writing about "good leaks" that are the very essence of this abuse.

Posted by: Cujo359 | April 26, 2006 09:03 PM

6:06 PM  
Blogger Eric in DC said...

I'm glad to find your site. My wife and I quit reading the editorial page of the post years ago, but have noticed that the coverage in the "regular" paper is also bad. (They aren't covering this story very well at all, across the board. Or above the fold so to speak.) So a couple weeks ago we were looking at the front page and we got upset that they had put the Bush/Cheney link to Scooter on page A4. This story should have been above the fold. Anyway, we called immediately and cancelled our subscription. After doing a little more research we think that this choice is even more justified. Thanks for reporting on this.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Taylor Marsh said...

cujo359 - You raise an excellent point re: backing the reporter, Dana Priest. As I've said over on my blog, her reporting is unimpeachable. They should have come out in support of her with an editorial.

Good for you, Eric. The Post's credibility on the Bush/Cheney leaking to Libby has been unmasked. I'm glad they're feeling it where it counts.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Ancient Clown said...

Hi, just passing by and thought I would ask about YOUR thoughts on Law Of Life and the War on the Poor
or anything else that strikes your fancy.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

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Blogger Taylor Marsh said...

Let's try to keep this on topic, shall we?

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Cujo359 said...

Howard Kurtz has apparently decided to tell the world all about blogs. Unfortunately, his view is a bit one-sided. He seems to think that there are no journalists working in blogistan, and no one can write very well. YT and another commenter have taken him to task at this week's electronic blank wall. Come on over and give him a metaphorical smack on the noggin, and maybe show him an example or two of why he's wrong.

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Anonymous Jeff said...

What were those first two deleted comments about?

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Cujo359 said...

The deleted comments were some spam. Every once in a while a spambot leaves a turd here and then Taylor has to clean it up.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Taylor Marsh said...

cuju359's right. Spam.

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Anonymous Jeff said...

That was one of my guesses. The spambots are even hitting Jim Brady's "BLOG!" Scandalous, isn't it.

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Blogger Taylor Marsh said...

"Blog," in quotes is right, Jeff.

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