Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Media Bright Spot

Knight Ridder got it right while the rest of the herd was cowed.

Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery for their coverage of the sketchy intelligence used to justify war with Iraq.


"Anytime the nation is about to go to war and commit itself to something that drastic, there ought to be a full and open examination of a case and everything ought to be out there for people to see and make judgements about," Hoyt says. "That really was not the case here."

"I think the failure of the media in general in covering this story," Landay says, "is as egregious as the intelligence failure."


Dustin said...

That funny I thought we were in a republic. I thought that all evidence was supposed to be presented to our reps who would make a wise decesion on our behalf. Have you read the 9/11 report yet, how about the senate report, how about the brits intel report? Not enough time well your not being very American. As I see it we should be asking if there are this many issues why did congress pass the vote (Kerry and Edwards would be part of that) they had the same info Bush had. But no the general public should not be required to filter through thousands of pages of documents (many of which were classified). Instead we allow our leaders to make a judgement call and then for the people to review their judgment.

Kendall Miller said...

OK. Let's take a look at why Congress passed the vote and what Kerry said about why he voted the way he did.

This url,,
lists 16 statements by George Bush in regards to Iraq and the reasons to go to war. At the time he made the statements they were known within the administration to be inaccurate in terms of the certainty they expressed. In fact the intelligence community was deeply divided about them and had couched them in qualifiers that Bush saw fit to omit. So the level of danger presented to the Congress was inflated. As it has turned out the certainty expressed by the administration has found no significant evidence to back it up.

Even when voting with all but two of the Senate, Kerry voiced a number of concerns. As you recall the vote was not a vote to go to war with Iraq but rather a vote to authorize the President to use force if necessary.

Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.

Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense under the standards of law. The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet. I emphasize "yet." Yes, it is grave because of the deadliness of Saddam Hussein's arsenal and the very high probability that he might use these weapons one day if not disarmed. But it is not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests it is imminent. None of our intelligence reports suggest that he is about to launch an attack.

The argument for going to war against Iraq is rooted in enforcement of the international community's demand that he disarm. It is not rooted in the doctrine of preemption. Nor is the grant of authority in this resolution an acknowledgment that Congress accepts or agrees with the President's new strategic doctrine of preemption. Just the opposite. This resolution clearly limits the authority given to the President to use force in Iraq, and Iraq only, and for the specific purpose of defending the United States against the threat posed by Iraq and enforcing relevant Security Council resolutions.

Unfortunately Kerry expected the President to be an honorable man and live up to promises to exhaust all other options. He expected the President to only use force wisely for self-defense against an imminent threat. War is serious business and few expected the President to be so cavalier about the lives of our servicemen as he proved himself to be.

Dustin said...

I thought that was a multi national force? Kinda like WW2 where Great Britian did all the fighting and the French, Germans and Russians cried a bunch. Only this time they cried cuz we shut off the Oil for "food" (yeah right food) program. Oh and pre-emptive means you attack before being attacked, so eminent threat doesn't apply, if you downgrade the threat from invading the mainland of America to ability and willingness to run a couple of planes in the side of buildings then I woul classify Iraq as eminent.

Kendall Miller said...

I looked back at the reporting that was done right after 9/11. At first it wasn't certain who the responsible party was. OBL wasn't the only suspect. But as the evidence mounted up it became clear that it was an Al-Qaida operation because of who was in the airplanes and because OBL appeared to be the only candidate that had prior knowledge of the timing. Furthermore the type of planning and general modus operandi was consistent with things that OBL had done before in Kenya, Yemen, and other places. And when it came to Osama there was indeed a true multinational, if not global, coalition that full-heartedly supported our efforts to bring justice to him and his friends.

It is also clear that Iraq was immediately placed high on the suspect list by people in the administration who were chafing for any excuse to bring an end to Saddam. Unfortunately, where there was a nice active trail to Osama there was nothing like it that led to Saddam. Nevertheless the administration and its media clones kept touting the possibility of an as-yet-unproven link. As time passed and no convincing evidence was forthcoming that massive coalition against Osama began to unravel in regards to Saddam. Most of our European supporters began to say, "Hey, wait a minute here." Sure, excuses and rationalizations for the European behavior can be trumped up by folks who suspect hidden conspiracies and ulterior motives from everyone. But I choose to give European leaders more credit than that. I think that they honestly assessed the Bush case against Saddam and found it wanting.

Either Saddam was quite successful at hiding his weapons from the inspectors both before and after the invasion or he was successful because there was so little to hide. Furthermore either Saddam was quite successful in hiding his ties to Al-Qaida when Al-Qaida's ties to many other bad guys were well-known and Saddam's activities were under tight scrutiny. Or there were no ties to hide. Which does it make sense to believe? In all other ways Saddam has proven to be a thug of mediocre intelligence at best with a history of disastrous miscalculations. I don't see any reason to give him credit for an exceptional success in this one area when he was a failure in so many others. I admit I could be wrong but the overwhelming odds are in my favor.