Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Editorial: Still Timid, the Times takes a dive

Punch drunk and scared, hiding in its corner and not wanting to come out, the New York Timid less and less resembles a news paper and more and more resembles Mike Tyson. See, it's a sports comparison so the Timid can more easily grasp it.

Who knows why, but apparently writing for the Times means wearing a cup to the office.
Todd S. Purdum's cup is either too tight (maybe he bought a young boy's size?), too loose or maybe just needs a good washing (did the fumes from his smelly jock rot his brain?) because Coach Keller hollered, 'Purdum, you're up!" and Todd couldn't even make a run of the bases in "A Peephole to the War Room: British Documents Shed Light on Bush Team's State of Mind."

It's been labeled a "news analysis" and maybe this passes for that . . . in the little leagues.

Here's Todd trying to get the bat to connect with the ball:

But the memos are not the Dead Sea Scrolls. There has been ample evidence for many months, and even years, that top Bush administration figures saw war as inevitable by the summer of 2002. In the March 31, 2003, issue of The New Yorker, with the invasion just under way, Richard N. Haass, then the State Department's director of policy planning, said that in early July 2002 he asked Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, whether it made sense to put Iraq at the center of the agenda, with a global campaign against terrorism already under way. "And she said, essentially, that that decision's been made, don't waste your breath," he said then.

Yes, there has been ample evidence. And Todd is right to cite The New Yorker. I mean, it's not like he can cite the Times, is it?

There's nothing new here, TS tell us. Nothing to see.

That is exactly right. Provided, of course, that you depend on the Times for your coverage. On the Timid only and believe every word they print.

But even if you read the Timid, a few other things may come to mind. Like, gee, I don't know, Judith Miller (who's grudge f**king the U.N. one more time in today's paper). You know, the name that didn't make it into the mea culpa?

If you read the Times, did you know that evidence was being shaped? All along? Did you see what Todd feels was so obvious to everyone? Did you see it in the lead up? Did you see it after?


On September 8, 2002, what you knew was that "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." You knew that because the Times printed that. That little "news" (still not "analyzed" by the Times proper) was courtesty of Judith Miller and Michael R. Gordon.

What did you know on September 13, 2002?

If you read the Times, you knew "White House Lists Iraq Steps to Build Banned Weapons." Who wrote that? Little Judy Miller. Is she happy at last?

Whether she was fooled, along with the people who trusted her reporting, or whether she just decided she knew where the money/access/fame lay, who knows? But what's the casuality toll right now?

Here's a fact for the New York Timid.

You did a poor job today. You did a god awful job.

Having pushed and sold the war, absolutely you need to count on and cite The New Yorker to point to some real reporting.

Absolutely. As a subscriber to The New Yorker, I say, "Go for it!' As a subscriber to the Times, I understand why you can't cite your own paper.

You certainly can't mention Judith Miller. We're not supposed to talk about her, are we?

Poor Judith facing jail time. Poor Judith, never hurt a fly. A regular Sally Field.

Perhaps if the film's Absence of Malice.

Having come on like gangbusters, now she wants to play the innocent, shy retiring type.

And we're supposed to play along, right?

Let's get back to Coach Keller's designated hitter. He was on strike one, when last we checked.

Possibly, being designated hitter and water boy for the Timid takes up more than Todd can muster. He's got his eye on the ball, but it sails right over the plate before he can swing. Which explains this:

The latest memo published, first in The Washington Post and The Times of London over the weekend, is from July 21, 2002. It warned that "a post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise," in which "Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

Were those catcalls from the parents of the other team?

Regardless, they were embarrassing. And Todd should be embarrassed.

But remember, they don't have fact checkers at the Times. (They farm that out to the editors.)

Who "published" the memo? Not the Washington Post which did a story on the memo. (Note to the Times, that would be "reported on." Even "quoted.") As did the Times of London. But only the Times of London published the memo. (Leaving off the last page to protect the source apparently.)

When even chronology and basic facts escape the Times (of New York), pay attention because something's happening. And it's not the beauty of truth.

For the Timid, which can't seem to find its ass with both hands these days, let's note the Washington Post article that Todd is referring to:

That memo and other internal British government documents were originally obtained by Michael Smith, who writes for the London Sunday Times. Excerpts were made available to The Washington Post, and the material was confirmed as authentic by British sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

Get it? How hard is it to grasp that? Excerpts were made available to The Washington Post. Wash Post wrote a story on it. Wash Post didn't publish the memo. What kind of a "reporter" would insist that they did? It's got the be the fumes from that smelly jock. But does everyone at the Timid have their nose in Todd's jock? How else can you explain that the paper couldn't even get that basic fact correct?

The Timid, like a good lap dog wants to tell you nothing to see here, move along.

It wants you to trust them to analyze a period of time that they didn't get right in real time.
And the mea culpa didn't cover the mistakes/errors/lies/whatever.

Why is Judith Miller still at the paper?

They want sympathy for her now.

But they want to continue to distort reality.

I bit my tongue yesterday when David Sanger (who's part of the Elite Fluff Patrol) took a crack at explaining the Downing Street Memo.

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

The above is left out of Todd's "analysis." (It's from Michael Smith's "Ministers were told of need for Gulf war 'excuse.'" Maybe if we wait a month, the Timid can get around to informing us about this?)

Todd's article tells you that the memos aren't the Dead Sea Scrolls.

What the Times doesn't tell you is why we couldn't offer "regime change" as our reasoning for going to war.

Since the Times won't tell us, let's go over it here. From the Downing Street Memo:

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

What was it sold to us as? You don't need to flip through Judy Miller's bylines to know it was sold as self-defence.

Now obviously, if we were increasing our bombings in 2002 to force Hussein to declare war (Michael Smith's May 29th article which we'll link to below), it wasn't self-defence. And we knew that. Our government did.

If we really thought that, as Miller reported on December 3, 2002, "Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from a Russian scientist" or the mushroom cloud nonsense, or the drone planes or the chemical or biological nonsense, if we (our government) really thought that was true, then increasing the bombings in 2002 was risking national security.

Isn't that what the word-mangling Bully Boy's supposed to be so famous for, national security?

Why won't the Times tell it's readers about that?

Let's go real slow because the Times is either willing to obsure the truth or they're just plain stupid (or think we are). While Cheney and the cheerleaders are doing WMD splits, we're actually increasing our bombing of Iraq. We haven't declared war. (We won't until the following year.) We're increasing our bombing on a supposed madman who holds all these WMDs that could destroy us.

If that was true (the "we all got it wrong" defense/b.s. that our government truly, honestly, deeply belived that Iraq had WMD), then the Bully Boy put your life at risk. He put my life at risk. He put all Americans at risk.

It doesn't work both ways.

You can't say, "He's a madman with WMDs! He could destroy us all!" while at the same time snickering nah-nah-nah while you increase the bombings.

If he's all you said he was (and let's include dear Judith in the "you") and we're in as much danger as you say we were, why the hell are we poking the bear before we're going to war?

So which is it, New York Timid. Did Bully Boy put us all at risk or did he (and Miller) present falsehoods? It's a simple enough question. One easily covered in a "news analysis."

It's odd that Todd has time to crack wise about Dead Sea Scrolls considering all that the Times hasn't noted from any of the Sunday Times of London's reporting.

Let's make it real simple, What did Bully Boy know and when did he know it?

If he knew there was no risk of damage to Americans on our soil, then his increased bombings put no American at risk. (That's not to be read as approval for the bombings on my part.) But to hold that belief, you have to agree that he knew the American people were being lied to.

So did he put us at risk or did he lie to us?

That's something the news analysis doesn't address.

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.
The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.
The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make "regime change" in Iraq legal.

That's from Michael Smith's "RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war."

That's only sixteen days ago and we'll assume the Times is made up of slow readers. But at what point does the Timid intend to address this issue?

Not today. Today they selectively pull quote and make jabs about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Some might wonder where the Timid gets the audacity to make snarky little jokes like that. After all, they never fired Judith Miller. They never ran corrections on her stories.

Even today, Todd has to go to The New Yorker to find establishing proof that things were reported. Reported elsewhere than in the paper.

What's in the paper today is embarrassing. Not for you or me, but for the Timid.

This could have been a turn around for the paper. This could have been where they stood up for the truth. Where they made up the debt they owed America after the Judith Miller stories.

The Timid and Todd strike out. They strike out so badly, that it feels like they're taking a dive. But maybe they've just been overpowered by the fumes from Todd's dirty jock? Who knows?

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

[Note: Typos corrected and "idiot" has been replaced with: "reporter" in quotes.]