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Leaking Integrity
Washington Post Gives the Lie to its Readers
by Allan Uthman

The next time someone tells me about the pervasive liberal bias in the mainstream media, I’m going to punch them in the mouth.

There is simply no excuse for the Washington Post’s April 9 editorial, called “A Good Leak.” There is no explanation for it, other than that the Post has grown to love the taste of presidential ass in its mouth. No “neutral” publication’s editors have ever published something so deliberately deceptive, so boldly incorrect in my experience. Not Time, not Newsweek, not even the New York Times. This editorial is the end for the Post, the death-knell of its integrity after many an ugly hack and wheeze. Never mind that the Post recently hired a right-wing hack blogger for its website, despite having no equivalent left-winger, or that he was fired within a week for blatant plagiarism. Never mind that the Post’s new ombudswoman, Texan Deborah Howell, clearly harbors a right-wing bias and dismisses her liberal critics as partisan kooks. Never mind the detestable Howard Kurtz and his concerns that the press is responsible for Tom Delay’s retirement. This one editorial, this single 600-word piece, says everything. That is, it says every lie that delights Bush’s ears.

Not only does it read like it’s at least a year behind the curve on the CIA leak scandal, it is totally contradicted by another article in the very same issue of the Post, a front page news story by Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer called “A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic.”

It’s amazing, really. Almost every claim presented as fact in the editorial is thoroughly debunked in the news piece. In fact nearly all of it has been debunked for months. But, since the same lies have somehow survived, it seems necessary to explain it again. Here’s how the Post editorial begins:

“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. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do.”

I can’t overstate what incredible crap this is. There are big, big problems with this story. For one, it probably wasn’t Bush’s idea to leak the document—he’s famous for leaving the heavy lifting to his inner circle. It was likely the Vice President who authorized the leak—and Cheney isn’t authorized to declassify any document that he himself did not classify in the first place.

But a less informed reader wouldn’t even realize a leak had possibly occurred reading this intro. Bush didn’t order a leak; he “approved declassification.” This is, to say the least, not a settled issue. Furthermore, it has never been suggested before that such an “I told someone so it’s declassified” loophole exists. Yes, the president can declassify whatever he wants, but there is a process, defined by executive order—rules the president himself sets out. Bush can change these rules, but it’s never been suggested before that the president didn’t have to follow his own prescribed procedures. Leave it to this administration to turn getting caught with their pants down into a power grab.

As to the claim that “the public benefits” from such a quickie declassification, there is simply no basis for that statement. It’s not even arguable who was right in this dispute—Wilson was right, plain and simple. The claims of Iraq attempting to get uranium from Niger were flimsy and false, based on “transparent forgeries.” Even the Washington Post agrees in the investigative story from the same issue, which states, “One striking feature of that decision -- unremarked until now, in part because Fitzgerald did not mention it -- is that the evidence Cheney and Libby selected to share with reporters had been disproved months before.”

Again this highlights the difference between a declassification and a leak, as well as the difference between informing the public and intentionally deceiving the public. While the Post editorial assures us in authoritative tones that Bush was simply informing us of evidence, the Post news story tells an entirely different tale:

“At Cheney’s instruction, Libby testified, he told [disgraced New York Times reporter Judith] Miller that the uranium story was a ‘key judgment' of the intelligence estimate…. ’ In fact, the alleged effort to buy uranium was not among the estimate’s key judgments…. [T]he uranium claim lay deeper inside the estimate… But it also said U.S. intelligence did not know the status of Iraq’s procurement efforts, ‘cannot confirm' any success and had ‘inconcl’sive' evidence about ’ Iraq’s domestic uranium operations.”

But none of those quotes were revealed to Miller or any of the other reporters involved. That’s not informing; that’s bullshit. And calling the uranium hoax a “key judgment” when it clearly wasn’t? That’s an old-fashioned lie. So much for informing the public.

The Post editorial writer seems to sense that calling such a selective, misinformative leak “declassifying” doesn’t quite ring true, and tries to compensate by adding the seemingly irrelevant fact that the White House “eventually” did observe “the usual declassification procedures and then invite reporters to a briefing,” ten days later. But, if the president can simply declassify a document by reciting a couple of lines from it, then how does this detail bolster his case?

Incredibly, the Post goes on to say that “There was nothing illegal or even particularly unusual” about this chain of events. But the Post cites exactly zero evidence to back up this claim; it’s as if they just pulled it straight out of McClellan’s backside. Nothing unusual. Really. Trust us.

But every sentence of this thing is worse more galling than the last:

“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.”

This, again, has been discredited by the Post’s own reporting. But where does it come from? Walter Pincus reported in the Post the very next day that “In fact, Wilson said he was told that a Niger official was contacted at a meeting outside the country by a businessman who said an Iraqi economic delegation wanted to meet with him. The Niger official guessed that the Iraqis might want to talk about uranium because Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger in the mid-1980s. But when they met, no talk of uranium took place.” That’s it. But the claim that Joe Wilson’s report bolstered the Niger-uranium story, despite its author’s claims to the contrary, continues to surface, because it is simply too convenient for the White House’s defenders to let go.

The editorial goes on:

“Mr. Wilson subsequently claimed that the White House set out to punish him for his supposed whistle-blowing by deliberately blowing the cover of his wife, Valerie Plame…. After more than 2 1/2 years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald has reported no evidence to support Mr. Wilson’s charge.”

How on earth a statement like this gets into a supposedly respectable newspaper is beyond me, especially when the same issue, again, reveals it to be another unarguable lie. Again, from the front page news story: “Fitzgerald wrote that Cheney and his aides saw Wilson as a threat to ‘the credibility of the Vice President (and the President) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq.’ They decided to respond by implying that Wilson got his CIA assignment by ‘nepotism’…. Fitzgerald reported for the first time this week that ‘multiple officials in the White House’… discussed Plame’s CIA employment with reporters… Fitzgerald said the grand jury has collected so much testimony and so many documents that ‘it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to “punish” Wilson.’ ”

So, what was that about Fitzgerald reporting no evidence? Oh yeah, that was another obvious lie.

And finally, this steaming pile of phony opinion, this disgusting, mythical regurgitation, gets to the original lies about Wilson:

“Mr. Libby’s motive in allegedly disclosing her name to reporters, Mr. Fitzgerald said, was to disprove yet another false assertion, that Mr. Wilson had been dispatched to Niger by Mr. Cheney. In fact Mr. Wilson was recommended for the trip by his wife.”

There are two lies here. One is that Wilson claimed it was Cheney who sent him to Niger. Wilson never said this. This is what he said, in his original New York Times piece which started this ball rolling: “The office of the vice president, I am absolutely convinced, received a very specific response to the question it asked, and that response was based upon my trip out there.”

Okay—where in that statement does Wilson claim that Cheney sent him to Niger? Nowhere. The Senate Intelligence Committee put it this way:

“Officials from the CIA’s DO [Directorate of Operations] Counterproliferation Division [CPD] told committee staff that in response to questions from the Vice President’s Office and the Departments of State and Defense on the alleged Niger-uranium deal, CPD officials discussed ways to obtain additional information. ... CPD decided to contact a former ambassador to Gabon [Wilson] who had a Posting early in his career in Niger.”

In other words...the VP received a response to the question...and it was based on Wilson’s trip.

And as to the obnoxious claim that Wilson’s wife got him the job, both Wilson and the CIA have maintained that the CIA contacted him through his wife. And ultimately, what would it even prove if it were otherwise? Wilson was sent by the goddamn CIA Counterproliferation Division to find out if Iraq was trying to buy weaponizable uranium from Niger. He found out that it was a bullshit fabrication, and guess what folks? he was 100% correct. When Bush said it was true anyway, Wilson called him on it in the New York Times, and that’s when things got ugly. This really isn’t that complicated.

You know, if you made a commercial that was this dishonest (“Aquafresh makes your balls bigger!”), they’d fine your ass for false advertising. Why is it, then, that these ‘journalists’ can just lie to us with impunity? Why is that not illegal? It can’t be part of the first amendment that a top daily newspaper can just make things up and pretend they’re true. That’s not free speech; it’s deliberate deception.

And remember, this is the liberal media we’re talking about here. Think about how stupid that sounds, when they’re providing Scott McClellan and Brit Hume with their talking points.

Any informed person, whatever their ideology, should be able to see that whoever wrote this irresponsible trash needs to be fired. There’s no other remedy. This isn’t an argument; it’s a collection of conscious lies. The Washington Post has become just another cruel joke, another tragic reminder of Orwellian prophesy in the Fair and Balanced age. If this is the Post’s future, they might as well outsource their Op/Ed page to the Republican National Committee, or Jeff Gannon. America is already drowning in bullshit. We don’t need another institution selling its soul and denying reality. But that’s what we’ve got.



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