March 26, 2004

Ah, The Liberal, Bush-Hating Media. Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times White House correspondent, on criticism that reporters were too easy on Bush on the eve of the Iraq war: "I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time." ... The Daily Howler is, like me, absolutely dumbstruck.

It's not surprising, but Fox distorted Clarke's testimony. Its online story includes these two paragraphs:

"You've got a real credibility problem," John Lehman, former Navy secretary under President Reagan, told Clarke, calling the witness "an active partisan selling a book."

Clarke responded: "I don't think it's a question of morality at all, I think it's a question of politics."

However, Clarke's response was not made to Lehman, but was a comment to a different question posed by another Commission member, former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson. Check out the transcript of Day 2 (Day 1 is here).

Re the timing of Clarke's book: As with all books written by former government officials, it must be submitted to the White House for review to insure that no classified material is included. The White House apparently sat on the book for at least three months (it was scheduled for release in late 2003). It appears that the White House hoped to delay the book's publication until either (a) Clarke testified before the 9/11 Commission or (b) (and ideally) the Commission had finished its work. But when the White House was forced to give the Commission a two-month extension of time, its plan backfired. So when they whine about the book's release in the middle of the "political season," they have no one to blame but themselves.

The Guardian: "The central allegation - that Mr Bush was so obsessed with going after Saddam Hussein that he openly challenged his counter-terrorism adviser to find a link between September 11 and Iraq the day after the attacks took place - is serious. ... 'The conversation absolutely took place. I was there, but you can't name me,' the witness said. 'I was one of several people present. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the president had Iraq on his mind, first and foremost.' This former national security council official was too terrified to go on the record - he knows how vengeful this administration can be."

Some very important questions. ... I've linked to many stories, but for a daily wrap-up of the major media stories, you should check out Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing.

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