How to read the Washington Post

Our reader Dafydd ab Hugh actually read the Washington Post story Deacon linked to and commented on yesterday, and he noticed an oddity about the source quotations that seemingly buttress it. He says he was jolted, so much so that he actually plucked them out of the story and pasted them together in Word without the intervening blather:
“It is a complex equation, and the U.S. government is ill-equipped to
figure out how this is going to shake out,’ a State Department official said. “I don’t think anyone took a step backward and asked, ‘What are we looking for?’ The focus was on the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.”
“This is a 25-year project,” one three-star general officer said. “Everyone agreed it was a huge risk, and the outcome was not at all clear.”
“We don’t want to allow Persian fundamentalism to gain any foothold,” a senior administration official said. “We want to find more moderate clerics and move them into positions of influence.”
“The most radical aspects of Islam are in places with no education at all but the Koran,” an official said. “There is no math, no culture. You counter that [fundamentalism] by doing something with the education system.”
Chalabi’s influence, particularly with senior policymakers at the Pentagon, helped play down the prospects for trouble, some officials said. “They really did believe he is a Shiite leader,” although he had been out of the country for 45 years, a U.S. official said. “They thought, ‘We’re set, we’ve got a Shiite — check the box here.’ ”
**”We’re flying blind on this. It’s a classic case of politics and intelligence,” said Walter P. “Pat” Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency specialist in Middle Eastern affairs. “In this case, the policy community have absolutely whipped the intel community, or denigrated it so much.”**
Over the years, “there was not as much contact as there should have been,” the State Department official said.
**”They expected a much warmer reception, and as a result it would be necessary for them to deal with some of these issues,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a Brookings Institution scholar, who was one of President Bill Clinton’s top Iraq specialists. “That flawed assumption is at the heart of some of the reasons they are scrambling now.”**
Mr. ab Hugh comments: “Do you notice? There are only TWO named sources in this entire article. I have marked them above with **asterisks**. The first named source is Pat Lang, a well known Middle East affairs analyst for the DIA during the Gulf War… but Lang does not, in fact, say anything that supports the Post’s point, that we were unprepared for, or taken by surprise by the Shi’ite muscle flexing. All Lang says is that those making policy acted faster than those merely gathering intelligence. Since it’s well known that the CIA was way behind the power curve on the Iraq War, for all we know, Lang could even be saying it was a good thing that the policy makers acted so decisively anyway.
“There is only ONE named source who actually enunciates the core position of the Post… and he is Kenneth Pollack — who was a ‘top Iraq specialist’ in the Clinton Administration! I think this puts the article entirely in perspective: all those unnamed sources (‘a State Department official,’ an unnamed “three-star general officer” — active duty? retired? elevated to that rank by Clinton? — ‘a senior Administration official”) are almost certainly Clintonistas.
“This piece is nothing more than an execrable hit piece by the Clinton administration against the Bush administration, and it very likely was orchestrated by the folks behind the rest of Clinton’s recent overt attacks on his successor — which may include Clinton himself as well as Hillary Rodham.”


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