Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 10, 2007
POLITICS: Correction: Dubious Intelligence At The Washington Post

Walter Pincus' Mouth Is Moving, But Carl Levin's Voice Keeps Coming Out

If you read Friday morning's Washington Post, you were unlikely to miss a story on Page A1 (that's the front page) with the dramatic headline

“Official's Key Report On Iraq Is Faulted

'Dubious' Intelligence Fueled Push for War

The article, by Walter Pincus and R. Jeffrey Smith, purported to summarize the conclusions of a report by the Pentagon's inspector general, beginning with the news that

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included 'reporting of dubious quality or reliability' that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community . . .

Of course, the Democrats, led by Michigan Senator Carl Levin, have been making this argument for some time. What was newsworthy, and certainly what was front-page-worthy, was that the Pentagon's own inspector general seemed to agree with Levin.

Apparently, though, this is more a case of Pincus and Smith agreeing with Levin and writing up an article that appears to have been itself so deceptive and misleading from the very outset that you wonder whether anyone read the thing before publishing it besides perhaps the people in Senator Levin's office who must have been dictating this to the dutiful scribes at the Post. Because take a look at the whopper of a correction the Post has posted, essentially recanting the entire thing:

A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general's report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith's office producing "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" and that the office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda" were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith's office drew on "both reliable and unreliable reporting" to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq "that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration" were also from Levin's report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith's office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general's report did not draw.

There goes the entire beginning, theme, title, and newsworthiness of the article. All the Post has left to stand on is a "well, they sounded alike" defense:

The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith's office: Levin's report refers to an "alternative intelligence assessment process" developed in that office, while the inspector general's report states that the office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers." The inspector general's report further states that Feith's briefing to the White House in 2002 "undercuts the Intelligence Community" and "did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence."

Check this morning's Post front page for this correction. Though I will be much surprised if it gets that prominence. After all, unlike the story itself, the correction is actually newsworthy.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:32 PM | Politics 2007 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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