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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Lying that Bush lied

Newspapers that charged the President with lying last year about the Iraq-Niger uranium connection are refusing to let their readers know that last week’s Senate intelligence report has exposed Joe Wilson, who initiated the charges, as a liar. (See for instance Patterico's expose of the LA Times.) They owe us more than that though. They also need to eat rat poison, because it was KNOWN AT THE TIME that the charges of lying were a lie. I wrote an article last year that detailed the available information and the lies told about it in Bay Area papers (The San Francisco Chronicle and The San Jose Mercury News). The relevant section is pasted below. (The full article is posted here.)

.... As CIA director George Tenant put it in his July 11th 2003 statement on the Iraq-Niger intelligence: “[Joe Wilson] reported back to us that one of the former Nigerian officials he met stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office.” But what evidence he did find was supportive: “The same former official also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss ‘expanding commercial relations’ between Iraq and Niger,” adding that “the former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales.”

This qualified skepticism was taken by the national media as grounds for charging the Bush administration with lying. The administration hadn’t just been duped. They knew the intelligence was “false.” But by the time of Tenet’s speech, British Prime Minister Tony Blair had already stood by the intelligence estimate. In his July 8th 2003 testimony before the House of Commons, Blair asserted that: “The evidence that we had that the Iraqi Government had gone back to try to purchase further amounts of uranium from Niger did not come from these so-called "forged" documents, they came from separate intelligence.” Further, it had already been reported by the BBC on July 9th 2003 that: “The British Government also says that, when it drew up its dossier, it had not even seen the documents later shown to be forged.” Nothing in what Tenet claimed to know contradicted these British claims in any way.

In other words, the claim that the intelligence report had been known by the CIA to be false was clearly false. Neither was there any reportorial grounds for asserting that the intelligence itself was false. Yet the entire national media, having come so close to having grounds for accusations of lying, was not about to let the opportunity slip through its grasp. For the next full week, major media across the nation were in full roar, labeling the intelligence as “false” in hundreds of news stories while accusing the Bush administration of knowingly lying about it. On July 15th 2003, Newsmax ran a LexisNexis search that “turned up over 1,000 print and television reports containing the words ‘uranium’ and ‘false’ or ‘erroneous’ in the nine days since the story was first misreported in the New York Times.”

The whole episode will go down as an unprecedented explosion of mass slander by a fully aware free press. The self-righteous evil here is gargantuan: the pretense of outrage at a lie, when one is starkly aware that it is oneself who is lying, perpetrated by an entire class of professionals who are paid to tell the truth. Yet even amidst this unprecedented evil, The San Jose Mercury News and The San Francisco Chronicle still warrant special condemnation.

Both ran above-the-fold news stories on July 12, four days after Tony Blair declared the British intelligence sound, that labeled the British intelligence “false.” * [Citations at bottom.] These stories were picked up from other sources, but not only did both papers choose to print them as they were, the Chronicle even repeated the false allegations in its choice of headline: “CIA director takes blame for false Iraq claim.” Tenet had not suggested that the British intelligence claim was false, and it had been front page news all across Europe for several days that the British were standing behind it.

Four days later, On July 16 2003, the Mercury News took slander to the next level. Where any moral editors would have felt some compunction to correct the false allegations it had published in wire stories, perhaps admitting that they themselves had been duped, the editors of the Mercury threw another late hit on the pig-pile, publishing a “timeline” about the controversy that listed every negative assessment of the British intelligence while omitting Blair’s by then eight day old rebuttal.** The timeline includes the discovery that some intelligence documents concerning the Iraq-Niger uranium link were forged, but omits the British government’s assertion that its intelligence assessment pre-dated any exposure to the forged documents.

Just for good measure, the timeline asserts that President Bush’s State of the Union claim that al-Qaida was running a training camp in Northeastern Iraq was “also not true.” This timeline was written months after intelligence discoveries in the Iraq war had proven beyond all doubt that Ansar al-Islam in Northeastern Iraq was linked to al-Qaida. In short, if the editors of the Mercury had a chance to tell a lie, either by omission or commission, they took it, with full confidence that California’s left-wing media monopoly would protect them from repercussions. What could expose them? A letter to the editor? Those go in the round file.

Incredibly, the Mercury still was not done. Yet another week later, on July 21st, ex-editorial page editor Rob Elder, who keeps his hand in at the Mercury, ran an entire high-toned opinion article taking the Bush Administration to task for its supposed lying.*** The editors who ran Elder’s article certainly knew by this time that the premises of Elder’s article were all false. In fact, I had sent them a Letter to the Editor on the 16th condemning these same lies when they appeared in the Mercury’s timeline on that date (unpublished, of course). Elder himself is guilty at least of an extraordinary failure of due diligence, but even this would be no accident. The truth is simply not a priority for these people. They are fully self-conscious about treating inconvenient truth as their enemy. Want proof?

When I sent a detailed letter exposing how every premise in Elder’s article was demonstrably false and opined that telling slanderous lies about the President in an effort to undermine our war effort is treasonous, the editors did not print my corrections. They did, however, remove Elder’s article from their on-line archive.[18] At least Mr. Elder and his ex-underlings at the Mercury knew enough at that point to be embarrassed, but if they know enough to be embarrassed, they know that they should run an editorial clearing the President of the many slanders that the Mercury published about him. Essentially, they have acknowledged their lies privately, but refuse to rectify them publicly, proving the self-consciousness of their lack of integrity. (Ironically, Elder is a senior fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.)

* On July 12th, the Mercury’s top news story was a Knight Ridder article, “CIA takes blame for error,” that refers to “President Bush’s false assertion in his State of the Union address that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa.” Also on the 12th, the lead news story in the Chronicle, “CIA director takes blame for false Iraq claim,” mis-described the British Iraq-Niger intelligence as a “baseless allegation” and a “false allegation.” The article was picked up from The Boston Globe.

** “A timeline: who knew what and when? A tale of twisted ‘intelligence’,” Mercury News editorial page, 7/16/03.

*** “So few words, so many consequences,” by Rob Elder, The San Jose Mercury News, 7/21/03, editiorial page.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

CIA finally reveals its grounds for rejecting Ani-Atta (Iraq-al Queda) link

One of the great mysteries of the last couple of years is why the CIA dismisses the Czech intelligence report that 9/11 attack leader Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi spymaster Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani in Prague five months before 9/11. It is known that Atta's cell phone was used back in the States at the time of the alleged trip to Prague, but the terrorists are known to share cell phones, so that doesn't give much grounds for rejecting the Czech intelligence. Further, the Czechs not only continue to stand by their Atta-Ani claim, but have corroborated it by sleuthing Al Ani's datebook from the Iraqi embassy in Prague. Atta described himself on his passport as "a Hamburg student." Ani's schedule notes a meeting on the day in question with a "Hamburg student." Yet outgoing CIA chief George Tenet claimed this week that the agency is "increasingly skeptical" of the Czech intelligence.

Increasingly skeptical in the face of corroboration? Surely the CIA must have some contrary information that no one else knows about. In a departing letter to Congress, Tenet has now spilled the beans. Tenet claims that Atta "would have been unlikely to undertake the substantial risk of contacting any Iraqi official" so close to the attack date. There you have it. The CIA doesn't think it would have been wise for Atta to meet with Ani in Prague, therefore it didn't happen, no matter that Czech intelligence was watching Ani and SAW IT HAPPEN, no matter that Atta is known to have taken some suspicious and risky trips to Prague before, including one without a valid passport, requiring him to stay in the airport.

For the last three years, Tenet, who was appointed by President Clinton in 1997, hasn't done a damned thing but try to cover his ass for pre-9/11 intelligence mistakes. He has utter contempt for honest assessment of intelligence information, no matter how crucial to national security. Good riddance.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Moore's dishonesty about the war is traitorous

The leftists are inundating the NYT movie reviews with praise for Michael Moore's lies about the terror war in Fahrenheit 9/11 so I decided to add my 2 cents. Here it is:

Intentionally misrepresenting the evidence about the nation's war efforts in an attempt to undermine those efforts makes Moore a traitor. Numerous Democrat reviewers acknowledge Moore's relentless disinformation, but approve his propaganda film as effective politics. That is just as traitorous. One's motivation for being a traitor in no way excuses or mitigates it.

My question for Moore fans, NYT fans, and 2/3’s of the Democrat party: if truth to you is whatever lies serve your presumptions about what is right, what in the world makes you think your presumptions about what is right can possibly BE right? You are witnessing one of the great good deeds in human history, masterfully accomplished. Iraq is free, and is now taking up arms to, with our help, purge itself of the vermin--the collection of Baathists and terrorists--who seek to kill both us and them. Yet you.... you grasp at every conceivable lie to slander this great deed.

Saddam was no threat to us? Morons. He almost brought the Trade Towers down in 93! Halliburton is profiteering? Forty-one Halliburton employees have been murdered in Iraq as they struggle to rebuild that country so that it can succeed and be denied to the terrorists. They are fighting and dying for Iraq and for us every bit as much as our soldiers are, and you slander them. You were lied to? Only by yourselves.

Every stinking lie anyone can come up with, you glom onto like a hope, so long it as expresses your anti-conservative bigotry. Yet you remain sure that your hearts are in the right place, as if this is somehow automatic, rather than dependent on an honest accounting of value. It is NOT automatic, and you aren't there.

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