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June 21, 2004
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: We Were Wrong

Jack Kelly at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes an extraordinary claim in today's edition -- that they bungled the coverage of the interim staff report from the 9/11 Commission. What's even more interesting is their review of the media coverage surrounding the report:

On Thursday, the lead headline in the Post-Gazette was "Saddam, al-Qaida Not Linked. Sept. 11 Panel's Conclusion at Odds with Administration." In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that day, the banner headline read: "9/11 Panel Debunks Saddam Link. Report: No Evidence of al-Qaida Ties."

This was false, as the chair and vice chair of the 9/11 commission hastened to make clear. ...

The Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review were by no means alone in getting the story wrong. The erroneous PG story Thursday was from The Washington Post. The story we ran Friday, headlined "Bush, Cheney Defend Linking Iraq, al-Qaida" -- which avoided mentioning that both the chairman and co-chairman of the 9/11 commission agreed with Bush --was from The New York Times.

The Gray Lady and the Post seem to be the sources of all the misleading and corrupt journalism on the Zelikow report, but as Kelly points out, they're hardly in it alone:

Television news was worse. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann began his broadcast Wednesday night with the announcement: "Memo to the vice president: 9/11 commission finds, quote 'no credible evidence,' unquote, of any link between al-Qaida and Iraq." CBS's John Roberts said the Bush administration "took a devastating hit when the 9/11 commission declared there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The report is yet another blow to the president's credibility."

Either all of these people simply take marching orders from the NY Times or they don't bother to read their source material very carefully, and likely the problem is a combination of both. I especially enjoy the revelation of Olbermann as an empty suit; easily one of the most arrogant and self-righteous talking heads on TV, he has revealed himself here as a poseur in opposition to his carefully cultivated populist-intellectual image. Perhaps he couldn't find anyone in the studio to explain the big words in the Zelikow report to him, but in any case, he can't claim that he read the actual report before going on air.

Kelly, meanwhile, uses a great analogy that demonstrates the folly of relying on a lack of evidence to connect Saddam to the 9/11 attack in order to undermine the argument for the war in Iraq:

Reasonable people can differ on how significant were the linkages between Saddam and al-Qaida. But it is certainly possible for linkages to be dangerous even if one party is not privy to the operational planning of the other. Nazi Germany and Tojo's Japan had a "collaborative relationship" before and during World War II which was, to put it mildly, troublesome for the United States, even though there is "no credible evidence" that Hitler was involved in planning the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Iraq provided money, weapons, training and safe harbor to al-Qaida and other terror groups. The 9/11 commission concluded that the support Saddam pro-offered wasn't as extensive as Osama bin Laden desired, but it was extensive enough to cause reasonable people to conclude that Iraq's support for terror was a danger to the United States.

Exactly. What the "no connection" argument holds, even after the statement by Vladimir Putin last week, was that because Saddam had not yet launched a terror attack in the US -- or more accurately, that we had no evidence of his participation in such an attack -- somehow that means we needed to stand idly by until such time as he did so. That argument should have died on 9/11, along with 3,000 Americans left vulnerable because our government, through successive administrations, insisted on treating Islamofascist terror as a criminal matter rather than as a war. Those who espouse the notion that we had to wait until Saddam struck not only display a fundamental disconnect with the reality of war but also the danger of WMD. One sarin shell contained enough material to kill tens of thousands of people, up to 15 times the toll of 9/11.

Still feel like waiting around? The media apparently does. The New York Times, CBS News, and Keith Olbermann may actually be bad for your health, and Jack Kelly provides the warning label. Read the whole thing.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 21, 2004 7:06 AM

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A major newspaper admits its initial reporting of the 9/11 Commission interim report was woefully incorrect, and takes the television media to task for doing the same. (Link via Spoons.) [Read More]

Tracked on June 21, 2004 8:43 PM

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