A friend who deals in matters of national security writes: “All the major newspapers seem to have a common, inexplicable blind spot in discussing the war in Iraq, which I find very disturbing because it obfuscates the fundamental failures, their nature, and their cause.” The most recent example is today’s editorial, “Lessons of War,” in The Washington Post:
Clearly we were insufficiently skeptical of intelligence reports. It would almost be comforting if Mr. Bush had “lied the nation into war,” as is frequently charged. The best postwar journalism instead suggests that the president and his administration exaggerated, cherry-picked and simplified but fundamentally believed — as did the CIA — the catastrophically wrong case that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell presented to the United Nations [emphasis added].
In fact, “many high-level, very experienced career CIA people not only did not believe the stuff, but knew it was wrong,” my correspondent notes. “The same is true at State and the Pentagon. The believers were the political appointees — the agency or department bosses and therefore their unimpeachable mouthpieces, the bosses’ immediate staffs, and the upward-bound opportunists. Why should but fundamentally believed even be in the sentence? The core failure at CIA, State, and Defense is that the facts were side-tracked and those who knew them and would speak them were muzzled.”
Postscript: Furthermore, “take Powell’s function as a mouthpiece: An Army four star who does not even suspect that the ‘mobile bio-weapons labs’ might be just hydrogen generators for inflating artillery weather balloons — if anything at all? Even though our own Army has them? Even when the intelligence source is Curveball and only Curveball — whom the CIA knew at the time to be a fabricator? I often wonder whether the editors read their own papers.”
Worse, do the editors read their own papers and either 1) not care or 2) choose, for any number of reasons, to act as mouthpieces themselves?