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    your pentagon guide to supporting the troops..., 2007-01-03 15:49:36 | Main | your brains on... I don't know what it is, exactly, but its blowing my mind..., 2007-01-06 14:52:02

    your press guide to reporting that 'he must know something that I don't know':

    GORDON: The military very much had the expectation that not only would it find WMD but it would encounter the use of WMD. One reason the Marines maneuvered the way they did around the battlefield was to stay outside the range of the artillery that they were told was chemical artillery.

    RICKS: It's also important to remember though that Dick Cheney in August 2002 got up at the VFW Convention in Nashville and said, "There is no doubt." Which is to say 100% certainty, and I think that had enormous influence inside the military, inside the intelligence community and even to an extent on journalists. When the Vice President says, "I know for a fact," a lot of people in the military said, "He must know something that I don't know."

    SUSKIND: And that evidence would often not be available. This is what Cheney said over and over, that evidence as we have defined it up to now may be too high a bar. When someone offers a doubt, Cheney slaps them down.

    C.f. Washington Post's Thomas Ricks Courageously Waits Four Years To Tell Us What He Thought About Iraq's WMD.

    Ricks was reporting a closed loop in a circular argument without making his readers aware of it: he reported military assertions of WMD and on the military planning for it without reporting that the reason for the planning was the executive assertions. "No, but I'm confident the Iraqis will tell us": Rick's skeptical opinion had a lead he could have persued.

    Why this is important is that before the war the argument would be: the military is making all these plans for it, so obviously there must be wmd, or why waste the effort? They believe it and they ought to know. If Ricks had reported what he understood then - that the military was self-conciously basing this planning on the blanket assertions of the executive - that'd have been one more deadpan stake into the heart of the beast.

    Ricks had the sources for the skeptical end of the argument, he didn't report it. That's all. He admits the error. Now if only he and his pals at the WaPo would learn their lesson, say, regarding Iran's supposed nuke program - baldly asserted constantly in their pages as plain fact - something could be forgiven. Hell, they did very useful reporting on why Iran wants nuclear energy, not least citing Darth Cheney his very own self - but that one piece just slips through the hole in the rest of their coverage. The argument is now: the only reason Iran could want nuclear energy is to produce a weapon, not to increase oil exports. That argument is the sole basis for the now blanket assumption that Iran has a nuke program, as far as I've been able to discern, and it's simple hogwash.


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-01-03 17:16:10 CST | link





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