A One-Two Punch

Last night, I started working on an analysis of the Washinton Post’s story titled “Hussein’s Prewar Ties to al Qaeda Discounted.” I finished the post this morning, titled it “Malpractice or Malice?” and put it up on our AOL page. Only then did I turn to Power Line and see that Paul had done a post on the same subject last night.
It’s worthwhile, I think, to read the two posts together. Paul’s focuses on the undisputed facts and the bottom line question of whether it was reasonable to worry about potential collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda. My post, which is unusually lengthy for us, focuses more on the Post’s misleading characterization of the Inspector General’s report which is the basis for the story, the history of the IG report itself, and the drive-by attack on Dick Cheney that the Post’s reporter gratuitously inserted into the article. An excerpt:

One would think that Smith and the Post, having been burned on this story once already, would be careful to get their facts right the second time around. No such luck. Here is the first paragraph of Smith’s story in yesterday’s Post:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides “all confirmed” that Hussein’s regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

To read this, one would think that the Post is actually reporting new information on this long-contentious subject. In fact, the IG’s report contains no news on the subject at all, and the IG made no attempt to figure out who–the CIA or Feith’s Defense Department group–was right. The statements in the IG’s report that lead the Post’s coverage come from a single footnote; worse, the Post didn’t even report that footnote correctly.

Read together, the two posts are an indictment both of the Posts’s reporting and of the sloppy thinking that characterizes so much liberal argument on this issue.
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