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November 23, 2003
Challenge, Chapter 7: Differences and Motivations

Hayes, in the summary of his original article on the Feith memo, makes the following observation:

CRITICS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION have complained that Iraq-al Qaeda connections are a fantasy, trumped up by the warmongers at the White House to fit their preconceived notions about international terror; that links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden have been routinely "exaggerated" for political purposes; that hawks "cherry-picked" bits of intelligence and tendentiously presented these to the American public.

The Bush Administration has not been the only target for this criticism. Rupert Murdoch's Fox News (the Weekly Standard is also owned by Murdoch) was the subject of a rather notorious study that purported to show that its viewers tended to be extraordinarily misinformed on the war on terror. One of the points that claimed to demonstrate the ignorance of Fox News viewers was the result that around 70% of them thought that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. This resulted in widespread sneering by the rest of the mainstream media about the editorial content and balance at top-rated Fox News. [Disclosure: I rarely, if ever, watch Fox News, except for occasional breaking stories regarding the war. I tend not to watch TV news at all. I prefer Internet sources, and even at that, I don't usually do much reading at]

What results from that is a significant motive by the same media mainstream to protect its competitive stance, i.e., Fox News is a shill for Bush and the "neocons". That's why we see news outlets like Newsweek ignoring significant elements of the Hayes/Feith story on one hand, and practically demanding that the Bush administration getting a criminal conviction before demonstrating strong Saddam/al-Qaeda ties both pre- and post-9/11. The key problem is that we are under attack by an enemy abroad, and we have been for at least a decade in the case of al-Qaeda; we can't afford to just sit back and wait for Saddam and his ilk to hold news conferences admitting to supporting and financing these groups. For crying out loud, that's why we have intelligence agencies!

And one who should know better is Senator Carl Levin, who Hayes notes is still operating on the Clintonian prosecutorial approach:

Carl Levin, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, made those points as recently as November 9, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Republicans on the committee, he complained, refuse to look at the administration's "exaggeration of intelligence."

Said Levin: "The question is whether or not they exaggerated intelligence in order to carry out their purpose, which was to make the case for going to war. Did we know, for instance, with certainty that there was any relationship between the Iraqis and the terrorists that were in Afghanistan, bin Laden? The administration said that there's a connection between those terrorist groups in Afghanistan and Iraq. Was there a basis for that?"

Thanks to Hayes and the Weekly Standard, we know that not only was there a basis for that, there was a strong case, almost a prosecutorial case, demonstrating it. But Senator Levin apparently insists that the Executive, who has a constitutional duty to protect the United States from attack, freeze its activity until a jury comes back with a conviction. One would like to think that with the country under attack, even the hard partisans of both sides would understand the need to protect the country. However, as the Rockefeller memo shows, some of the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee (like Levin) are more interested in playing politics than in getting to the truth:

SUMMARY: Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading, if not flagrantly dishonest, methods and motives of senior administration officials who made the case for unilateral preemptive war.

So what you have, in effect, is the Senate Democrats reaching a conclusion before even hearing the evidence in front of them, and in one case deciding that despite this conclusion, they wouldn't take action to presumably protect the country until it gave them the best possible political advantage:

3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time. But we can only do so once.

The best time to do so will probably be next year ...

If the Administration is really running rampant and skewing data in order to pursue an overly militaristic foreign policy and is killing American servicepeople needlessly as a result, why would the Democrats wait until next year to do something to stop it? If Democrats really believe that's the case, doesn't a deliberate delay in responding make them complicit? Of course it does, and the answer is that the Democrats don't appear to care about that one way or the other, as long as they can exploit it for political gain next year. As retiring Democratic Senator Zell Miller said in reaction, this is disgusting. It demonstrates that the American public is not getting the review of the data that they deserve, from either the opposition party or from the mainstream media, both of whom are more interested in scoring points off their respective betes noires than they are in protecting and informing the American public.

Next: a final nugget from Hayes regarding Iraqi connections.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 23, 2003 9:44 AM

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