The New York Times would rather condone perjury than appear partisan. This is shocking. In their review of the results of the 9/11 commission's investigation, DAVID JOHNSTON and JIM DWYER give a they said they said presentation of the debate between the CIA and the Clinton administration as to whether Clinton ordered the CIA to kill bin Laden without faking an attempt to capture him -- "White House aides believed, for example, that President Clinton had authorized actions to kill Mr. bin Laden, but C.I.A. officers thought they were legally permitted to kill him only during an attempt to capture him." Now this shows special eagerness not to apportion blame, since it is simply aserted that each is telling the truth "believed" and "thought" not "claimed" or " asserted."
The questioning of Cofer Black and John Ashcroft makes it extremely difficult to stick to such a balanced assessment. Ashcroft and Black presented the CIA position that the MON was, at worst for bin Laden, unclear on this point. They were forcibly contradicted by Ben Veniste and Fielding (a Republican) who claimed that they were proven wrong by a Clinton administration document that the Bush administration had attempted to keep from the commission. This is a very important issue and it is not mentioned in the four cyberpage long article. If you want serious coverage, it would be better to look here.
Now it might be premature to conclude that the CIA witnesses to the 9/11 commission perjured themselves in an effort to blame the Clinton White House for their failure to transmit the President's orders to their subordinates, but the issue would not have be suppressed entirely by serious journalists.
On a much pettier note, Adam Nagourney and Eric Lichtblau appear to consider a little white lie no big deal in decided who are the "9/11 Hearings' Winners and Losers."
"On paper, at least, Ms. Rice did not appear to do particularly well. After her exchange with Mr. Ben-Veniste about the name of the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential briefing, she went on to minimize its importance, describing it as little more than a "historical" document. As it turned out, the briefing included evidence from as recently as May of that year.
But that has seemed to be more of a problem for the White House than for Ms. Rice, "
as it was unimportant compared to "Her cool, poised and very prepared presence...". Even in an article which is explicitly about (and pandering to) Washington superficiality this is extreme. Last I heard, cool poised and very prepared perjury was a felony.
Nagourney and Lichtblau's quotes are selected and edited with gross bias. They quote Matt Bennet (a Democrat) praising one Democrat (Gorelick) then criticizing two in a quote so blatantly removed from context that there is a pronoun without a referent "They were a little too combative, and it sort of came off as a nasty spat,". To what does the word "it" refer ? Not, I think to a piece of legitimate journalism.
They quote Vin Weber (a Republican) criticizing a Democrat (Ben Veniste) as the most partisan, when it should be clear that Rep Weber is not likely to be as hard on Republican partisanship, including, for example, communication on the day of a hearing with the White House Counsel and waving the just released transcript of a background interview. They also quote Rep Weber calling Rice a superstar to sum up their section on her.
They quote Rahm Emanuel (Dem) even-handedly praising a Democrat and a Republican. They quote Ben Veniste (the highly partisan Democrat) praising a Bush appointee. They quote John F. Lehman, a Republican defending a Democrat (Gorelick).
The most outrageous example of absurd bias is the quote summing up the section on Clarke ""He looks like a greedy, self-aggrandizing, bitter, score-settling political person," said Richard N. Bond, a former Republican national chairman."
Now, Mr Bond is not an important public figure, so no very useful purpose is served by illustrating the amazing irony blind hypocrisy of a RNC chairman accusing a civil servant of being "political" The point is that the only quoted words on Clarke and Rice, which are also the last words, are from Republicans with no claim to special expertise.
This can only be an effort to achieve balance between Clarke many of whose once controversial claims have been confirmed and Rice whose lie was promptly exposed.
The lesson can only be that the New York Times is the friend of liars and the enemy of the truth.
[Update] Immediately after posting the above I went to read what Bob Somerby had to say. I wanted to be sure that my post was not completely redundant. I was shocked to learn two things. First it was not redundant at all. His post was about the press corps going easy on Rice and being unfair to Ben Veniste. He presented outrageous examples not including the article by Adam Nagourney and Eric Lichtblau. Second my language was much more extreme than his. Somerby was careful not to accuse Rice of out and out perjury. Even more surprising, Bob Somerby was much gentler with the press corps than I. I never expected to write that. posted by Robert
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