Sunday :: Apr 9, 2006

A Washington Post Editor Caught Brazenly Lying: When is this going to stop?

by eriposte

UPDATE 2 (4/13/06): See note below on the NIE key judgements and Fitzgerald's correction.

UPDATE: Jane has a must-read takedown on the editorial as well. Make sure you comment (politely) at the Washington Post blog and to the ombudsman (h/t Bob Fertik).

The Washington Post has a deeply fraudulent editorial defending Bush's involvement in the NIE leak. It's not just that they get the facts wrong, but by a fair accounting this editorial involves deliberate lying that also specifically excludes contradictory information, much like what George Bush did - and the editor who wrote this is clearly guilty of journalistic malpractice. I don't have time to go through every detail, so I'll just mention a couple of things. (All emphasis in quoted portions is mine). [Other bloggers have posted some rebuttals as well].

The WP editor who wrote this piece of garbage says:

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.

Clearly, the editor hasn't read his own paper and should be fired. After all, I pointed out the moment Fitzgerald's filing became public that Libby, and by extension Cheney and Bush, were deliberately misrepresenting the portion of the NIE that Libby leaked:

What we've learnt today is that Libby, Cheney and Bush appear to have been trying to mislead reporters by claiming that what was really in the BODY of the NIE (and which was rebutted in the ANNEX and which was NOT part of the NIE's key judgments), was somehow part of the key judgments.

If Libby had actually passed on the key judgments of the NIE to Miller, Miller would have discovered that it had NO mention of the uranium claim. So, it appears that Libby, Bush and Cheney tried to deliberately misrepresent the NIE to reporters by claiming that the uranium claim was part of the NIE's key judgments (even though it was not) and then tried to leak the contents from the body of the NIE (minus the annex) to make it appear as if the NIE made a strong case against Joseph Wilson's claims.

Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer reported this in the WP subsequently:

At Cheney's instruction, Libby testified, he told Miller that the uranium story was a "key judgment" of the intelligence estimate, a term of art indicating there was consensus on a question of central importance.

In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate's key judgments, which were identified by a headline and bold type and set out in bullet form in the first five pages of the 96-page document.

Obviously, if the the WP editor who wrote this piece of garbage is in favor of Libby's and Bush's action, then the only reason to support that action would be to inherently support crookedness and dishonesty. After all, the editor could have asked why Bush did not authorize leaking the part of the NIE that claimed that the uranium claim was "highly dubious". The fact that the editor did not ask that shows that the person was simply a partisan and dishonest hack who is unfit to be editor of a premier newspaper. [NOTE: This part of my opinion is obviously unchanged regardless of the correction issued by Patrick Fitzgerald on 4/11/06 that Libby did not actually claim that the uranium allegation was part of the key judgements of the NIE. First of all, the uranium claim was left out of the key judgements - and the unclassified White Paper - because there were questions about its credibility, and its credibility was challenged in the INR text box which got "accidentally" moved to the Annex of the NIE. The WINPAC Director also told the White House they could not refer to the CIA/NIE uranium claim in the context of the SOTU. So, for this editor to ignore those facts and support deceptive and selective disclosure is egregious. A real editor would have asked for the White House to disclose all relevant information. Secondly, at the time the editorial was written, the understanding was that Libby was misrepresenting what was in the key judgements. While that may been corrected since, the editor had no way of knowing that was not true; yet, the editor deliberately ignored that. For a discussion of the implications of Fitzgerald's correction, click here].

In fact Gellman and Linzer themselves reported that:

Unknown to the reporters, the uranium claim lay deeper inside the estimate, where it said a fresh supply of uranium ore would "shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons." But it also said U.S. intelligence did not know the status of Iraq's procurement efforts, "cannot confirm" any success and had "inconclusive" evidence about Iraq's domestic uranium operations.

Iraq's alleged uranium shopping had been strongly disputed in the intelligence community from the start. In a closed Senate hearing in late September 2002, shortly before the October NIE was completed, then-director of central intelligence George J. Tenet and his top weapons analyst, Robert Walpole, expressed strong doubts about the uranium story, which had recently been unveiled publicly by the British government. The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, likewise, called the claim "highly dubious." For those reasons, the uranium story was relegated to a brief inside passage in the October estimate.

The WP editor who wrote this piece of garbage also says:

The material that Mr. Bush ordered declassified established, as have several subsequent investigations, that Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium.

Obviously, what Bush ordered declassified did not prove that the uranium claim was credible. If it was that credible and really established the validity of the claim, then why did the White House withdraw it? Moreover, this editor with a partisan vendetta against Joseph Wilson, a vendetta that clearly wants to sidestep the real facts associated with Wilson's trip as opposed to fake GOP talking points, wants readers to remain ignorant about George Tenet's statement from 7/11/03:

Because [the Wilson] report, in our view, did not resolve whether Iraq was or was not seeking uranium from abroad, it was given a normal and wide distribution...

In other words, according to then-DCI George Tenet's own spin, the Wilson report did not "support the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium." Tenet also pointed out in the same statement that:

... Also in the fall of 2002, our British colleagues told us they were planning to publish an unclassified dossier that mentioned reports of Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium in Africa. Because we viewed the reporting on such acquisition attempts to be inconclusive, we expressed reservations about its inclusion...

In September and October 2002 before Senate Committees, senior intelligence officials in response to questions told members of Congress that we differed with the British dossier on the reliability of the uranium reporting.

In October, the Intelligence Community (IC) produced a classified, 90 page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's WMD programs. There is a lengthy section in which most agencies of the Intelligence Community judged that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Let me emphasize, the NIE's Key Judgments cited six reasons for this assessment; the African uranium issue was not one of them.

But in the interest of completeness, the report contained three paragraphs that discuss Iraq's significant 550-metric ton uranium stockpile and how it could be diverted while under IAEA safeguard. These paragraphs also cited reports that Iraq began "vigorously trying to procure" more uranium from Niger and two other African countries......Much later in the NIE text, in presenting an alternate view on another matter, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research included a sentence that states: "Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious."

An unclassified CIA White Paper in October made no mention of the issue, again because it was not fundamental to the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program, and because we had questions about some of the reporting. For the same reasons, the subject was not included in many public speeches, Congressional testimony and the Secretary of State's United Nations presentation in early 2003.

One thing becomes clear about the WP editor who wrote this piece of garbage. This editor is obviously fine with the dishonest and fraudulent policy that was used on pre-war intelligence. A policy that involved deliberately suppressing accurate intelligence from the public - by classifying it - in order to allow the White House to misrepresent the facts in public by "cherry-picking" and declassifying the unreliable "raw data" or "intel" that met their approval. Readers can contact the WP and tell the Post if they believe this person deserves the post of editor.

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