Monday, February 12, 2007

The MSM Plays Catch Up

As web versions of tomorrow's newspapers are released, the big two of the mainstream are rapidly playing catch-up with bloggers over the "evidence" for Iranian involvement in Iraq after initially acting as simple stenographers for the Bush administration.

Here's the WaPo trying to follow up the claims made at the "secret squirrel" briefing as well as Gen. Pace's refusal to back those claims:
Asked by reporters yesterday to provide more information on the charge, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "The Iranians are up to their eyeballs in this activity." He called the Baghdad presentation a "very strong circumstantial case," saying that he was "not going to try to embellish that briefing" and that "any reasonable person . . . would draw the same conclusions."

White House spokesman Tony Snow offered similar responses. "Let me put it this way," he said. "There's not a whole lot of freelancing in the Iranian government, especially when it comes to something like that."

Pressed repeatedly, Snow answered, "Look, the Department of Defense is doing this. What I'm telling you is, you guys want to get those questions answered, you need to go to the Pentagon."

A call to the Defense Intelligence Agency brought a referral to the main Pentagon press office. That office referred a caller to the Washington office of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, which responded with an e-mailed copy of Sunday's briefing slides -- containing no mention of the "highest levels" allegation and a request for questions in writing. Written questions brought no response. An official from the Pentagon Joint Staff said last night that Pace had seen the briefing slides but had "no personal knowledge of any senior involvement by senior Iranian officials."
Next up is the New York Times editorial page, who , after some thought, have trodden deeply on their very own White House mouthpiece, Michael Gordon:
Unlike Colin Powell’s infamous prewar presentation on Iraq at the United Nations, this briefing had actual weapons to look at. And perhaps in time, the administration will be able to prove conclusively that the weapons came from arms factories in Iran.

But the officials offered no evidence to support their charge that “the highest levels of the Iranian government” had authorized smuggling these weapons into Iraq for use against American forces. Nor could they adequately explain why they had been sitting on this urgent evidence since 2004. The only thing that was not surprising was the refusal of any of the briefers to allow their names to be published. Mr. Powell is probably wondering why he didn’t insist on the same deal.
Ouch, that one had to hurt. Just to add righteous insult to injury, they also have ten letters, all from people sceptical about the quality of the Bush administration's evidence...and the quality of their assurances they don't want war with Iran.

One has to ask - did they wake up and realize they were letting themselves be led down the garden path again or did the efforts of bloggers and a few lone MSM voices like Dan Froomkin embarass them into doing some real journalism?

Meanwhile...over at the far-right Ayn Rand Institute's Capitalism Magazine, they are calling the Bush administration's current efforts "feeble" for an entirely different reason:
It is an evasion of Iran's nature and goals--an evasion of the need to eliminate the Iranian menace.

...To protect American lives, we must recognize Iran as an enemy stained with U.S. blood and assert ourselves militarily to make it non-threatening. This does not mean an Iraq-like crusade to bring them elections; it means protecting U.S. lives by destroying Iran's militant regime. But that is precisely what our leaders refuse to do.

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