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