Politics Trumps Intelligence

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

Just freshly back into the weblogging fold – if only on a week-by-week basis – ¿and I’m already dictating what sort of news should be covered more and what sort less? The sheer noive! (That “¿” was taken from the Spanish to let you know up-front that a question was coming. Thoughtful of me, ¿eh, amigos?) OK, so coverage of the late, great pope and/or his earthly remains belongs in the latter category; what should be in the former?

Consider that Thursday of last week saw the release of the report of the the commission on intelligence, assigned to evaluate culpability in light of the US intelligence community’s utter failure (together with most of its foreign partners) to correctly evaluate the extent of Iraq’s holdings of weapons of mass destruction. But by that point the pope was already seriously ailing – and then he died two days later, and the world’s journalists began their own professional pilgrimage to Rome! Is George W. Bush a lucky son-of-a-gun, or what?

But actually, the requirement would have gone beyond simple coverage of the face-value of the commission’s report, for that report focused on the supposed mistakes of the various intelligence agencies, the CIA at the forefront, and largely exonerated Bush administration officials from the charge of having tried to influence what the intelligence community reported to it over Iraq. So it’s a tall order: coverage that can discuss the report, yet disregard its more blatant presentations of sheer horsefeathers. (On the other hand, you might ordinarily consider the task simple, comparable to simply pointing out the obvious fact that the emperor is wearing no clothes.) Fortunately, there are journalists in the world up to the task, and newspapers willing to publish them, as in this case is Dorrit Saietz (who’s preferred by-line is simply “DS”) and her employer, the Danish commentary newspaper Information (Political Spies). (more…)

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