Saturday, December 03, 2005

NYT: "Leak Ruling Has Mystery, 8 Blank Pages" (Adam Liptak)

Julie e-mails to share the thought, "Oh, Adam, how could you?" She's writing about Adam Liptak's "Leak Ruling Has Mystery, 8 Blank Pages" in this morning's New York Times. (Page A15.) Patrick Fitzgerald has "told the court that he had no objection to the unsealing of parts of those pages [federal appeals court decision], and he gave hints of what they say." Which is, apparently that he had reason to believe that Scooter Libby was giving false testimony.

Julie's commenting on Liptak's statement that "Mr. Cooper avoided jail after his source, Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adivser, gave him permission to testify." As Julie notes, Liptak's own reporting (in real time) contradicts that.

Julie, we're just going to have to accept that there are a lot of spinners and a lot of ____ who will say anything. You can assume that Liptak (or "Liptak") buckled under pressure if it helps. It appears that, in print, the lone voice of truth on this will remain Michael Wolff.

Alicia e-mails to note that Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) has excerpts of Judith Miller's BBC interview. (And links.) Ron offers this commentary:

Aside from the fact that this is the first time Judith Miller has faced some hard questioning in front of the camera since returning from prison, this interview is "newsworthy" for the sort-of apologies Judy offers (notice how she piles on the CIA for being wrong but not the President) and a teensy bit of information she adds about who else spoke to her about Plame other than Libby.
Judy clearly says that her sources were plural...that's new...and she sure clammed up when Rove's name came up.
It seems that Judy Miller has decided to adopt the Bush doctrine: pretend that two-and-a-half years ago absolutely every single person in the world - not to mention the entire intelligence community - was in agreement about Saddam Hussein's weapon arsenal. Isn't it supposed to be elephants that never forget?

My thoughts? The New York Times, as an institution, wanted war with Iraq. "Star reporter" or not, her "scoops" could have been balanced with other reporting. That was an institutional decision and it has less to do with Miller and more with the Times. She was wrong. She was wrong for a number of reasons. But the Times has more than one reporter (and more than one editor). Her articles were one-sided and these weren't supposed to be op-ed pieces so that resulted in her name being damaged (to put it mildly). That doesn't excuse the paper. She played the game the institution wanted. Now she's the "bad" one and the paper walks.

The mea culpa promised to get to the bottom of it. It still hasn't explored the issues. (The bottom of it isn't Judith Miller.) Op-eds and editorials do not count. The paper has failed to address the issues of how we ended up where we are today. Was Todd S. Purdum the one who mocked the Downing Street Memos? (Regardless, Todd's already the source of many jokes at his new employer, Vanity Fair.)

If you're a paper that led the charge for war in print (they weren't alone), you can't offer a genuine mea culpa and then downplay the Downing Street Memos. Or any other details that arise. The New York Timid wanted war and got war. The reasons for the war exploded in their face and they offered up a mea culpa that's meaningless because they've failed to address how we got over there.

The intelligence wasn't wrong (as Miller claims). The intelligence was cooked and we knew that in real time. The paper's failure to address this topic seriously and extensively doesn't demonstrate that their mea culpa was anything other than an attempt to take the heat off of themselves.

They chose to play up Miller's articles. They choose now to act as though "we were all wrong." We weren't. And the intel was cooked.

There are hair splitters, on the left, who want to argue that "We can't know if George W. Bush lied! We can't look in his heart!" We can go by the public record. It was known, if you went beyond the half-assed articles appearing in the mainstream press (domestic).

We can't "look" into anyone's heart. We can look at the facts. The administration wanted the war and they pushed it and they pushed intel to come up with the results they wanted and then selectively quoted from intel in public papers and public statements.

There's an ___ online who's had his own little war on Joseph Wilson (for a number of reasons) and he likes to offer that Bully Boy couched his Niger claim in the State of the Union address on "British intelligence." If the ___'s frame of reference wasn't so narrow, he'd be aware that George Tenet himself told Tony Blair that there were serious problems with the Niger claim. If the ___ wasn't working through his own personal agenda against Wilson, he'd be aware that what happened here, happened in England. Bully Boy released the latest report in such a way that Congress had to vote (October, 2002) with little time to examine the report. Blair did the same thing in England.

This didn't just happen. Two leaders coordinated it. Whether they hatched it at their Camp David meeting or merely firmed it up, it was decided upon by them. They handled their war lust in the exact same manner. Both "sexed up" intelligence. Both shut out the voices saying the allegations weren't true. Both created new "offices" to launch their intel from because there were too many doubters inside their intelligence agencies.

They ignored and overrode the normal intelligence channels. That was their decision. It was a decision to lie.

The attacks on Joseph Wilson from some on the "left" have never stopped to note that they can't see in his heart. They give Bully Boy a benefit of the doubt that they don't give Wilson (as they run with GOP talking points). There are some ugly truths there but some can't get honest. They're too busy carrying water for too many people while pretending to be "honest voices."

On the BBC Miller trots out a GOP talking point (also one for some on the "left") again. -- she found it was interesting that Wilson might have been sent by Valerie Plame. (As we noted here long ago, when one idiot on the "left" wouldn't stop pushing that lie -- Plame was in no position to make assignments.) That's a nice little side issue that has nothing to do with whether Bully Boy lied or not. It's as though Miller's wondering whether Wilson wore a t-shirt or a button down shirt while on his mission. What does that have to do with what he discovered? Not a thing.

But it muddies the water and confuses the issue.

And the fact that the op-eds (including Wilson's but we'll even note Nicky K) and editorials have occassionally been hard hitting doesn't excuse the fact that the reporting for the paper was slanted. That's not Miller. She didn't write every story, she didn't put herself on the front page.
The Times didn't want doubts in the reporting. That goes far above her.

Her articles were slanted. They were one sided. She is incorrect when she claims that everyone was wrong. She is lying when she says that all of her sources were on the same page. (Her sources cited, but not named, were on the same page. She did hear from other sources, and shut them out, sources telling her that the "facts" weren't fact.) She made a decision and it was one the institution supported. Who supported it first, Miller or the paper, is a good question but the fact is the paper sold the war. (They weren't the only ones.)

Her fear of being called into court is supposedly genuine (from what a friend of her's tells me). That doesn't excuse her slanting the truth. "If your sources are wrong, you're wrong" is her mantra. It's actually true. A reporter is only as good as his or her sources. That's why she wasn't a good reporter. That was the whole point of Rudith Miller.

But Judith Miller didn't own and operate the Times. If her articles couldn't present dissenting views (she shut them out), nothing prevented the paper from assigning other reporters and giving their articles front page play.

She's paying a price professionally and personally for her reporting. I'm not shedding any tears.
I am wondering when the New York Timid is served their own bill?

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