I wrote here about the unwillingness of MSM organs to review or write about Douglas Feith’s important book, War and Decision. The New York Times went so far as to kill three stories about the book by its Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter, James Risen. Though Risen is hardly a neo-conservative or an administration supporter, he recognized the signifcance of Feith’s book. The Times, however, is happy with the current narrative about Iraq war decision-making and does not wish to see a competing version see the light of day.
Risen has finally succeeded in printing a story about Feith’s book. To do so, he turned to a journal called the Washington Independent. Though a quick look at that paper’s website raises doubts as to how “independent” it really is, Risen’s story seems reasonably balanced, at least compared to what MSM figures normally produce when the topic is Rumsfeld’s Defense Department.
Risen confirms Feith’s account that, contrary to the story fueled by folks like George Tenet and George Packer, there was no plan by the Defense Department to “anoint” Ahmad Chalabi as leader of Iraq. Risen reached this conclusion by interviewing four individuals well-positioned to know — Jay Garner, L. Paul Bremer, Chalabi himself, and Richard Perle, a strong back of Chalabi. Risen’s research made it clear that the Defense Department remained neutral on the question of who should be in charge of Iraq.
Risen was also unable to find any evidence that Feith himself pressed to have Chalabi installed as Iraq’s leader. To the contrary, Garner told Risen that when Feith briefed him on the subject “he took me through the positives and negatives of the exiles and candidates, but he never told me to appoint Chalabi.”
There is a dense, documented record of who took what positions with regard to Iraq policy. Feith’s book contains some of the documents; others remain classified, but Feith knows what they say. The publicly available documents support Feith’s account on a wide varierty of matters, and it’s implausible to suppose that Feith would be foolish enough to write a document-reliant book whose assertions will be refuted by other documents as they become public. Thus, it’s likely that Feith’s overall account will carry the day among historians, just as his refutation of the “annoint Chalabi” tale is beginning to do. In that case, the likes of Richard Armitage and George Tenet will be revealed as spinners or worse, and those who printed their accounts will be seen as dupes.
Unfortunately, unless the media landscape changes dramatically, readers of the New York Times and other MSM mainstays will never hear about it.