Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

White House: Oops, no WMDs

So how did the American press treat the announcement Wednesday that the single most powerful reason George W. Bush insisted on for invading Iraq -- that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that were a clear and present danger to the United States -- didn't exist?

The same way it treated the bogus pretext three years ago: with nary an iota of skepticism.
Take, for example, the lead from the Associated Press:
The White House acknowledged Wednesday that its hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction — a two-year search costing millions of dollars — has quietly closed down without finding the stockpiles that President Bush cited as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
The most important thing was that the search for WMD cost us two million dollars? Not that a pretext that had been challenged as thinner than Callista Flockhart by many in the U.S. intelligence commnunity, not to mention the chief United Nations weapons inspectors, was used to justify the utter destruction of the U.S.'s reputation abroad, as well as the deaths of nearly two thousand Americans and uncounted tens of thousands of Iraqis -- and counting?

Where is the outrage?

The take by David Jackson of the Dallas Morning News on what the White House has astonishingly managed to turned into a non-story, aided and abetted by oour lapdog press, was equally banal:
Iraq's future is unclear, but Bush administration officials now acknowledge one thing seems certain: They won't find weapons of mass destruction there.

Only an American press completely cowed by the Bush administration could soberly and without the slightest trace of mea culpa write something like this, from Jackson's story:
The months-long failure to find weapons undercut Bush's standing internationally, analysts said. It also hurt him politically, though not fatally - he won re-election, in part because voters supported ending Saddam's regime.

Another reason, analysts said: As the months dragged on, the Bush administration gradually changed its war rationale from WMD to a desire to spread democracy throughout the Middle East.

"Whether that is a valid justification is another question," said Charles Kupchan, a Georgetown University international relations specialist who opposed the war. "But they clearly did shift the justification for the war after the fact, and it does seem to be getting a bit of traction with the American people."
Yes . . . because the press during the run-up to war failed to challenge a single utterance the administration bleated, from the existence of WMD -- remember the "slam dunk" famously offered by the now-deposed chief spook George Tenet? -- to the guaranteed reaction of candy and flowers from a cheeringly liberated Iraqi people. Instead we get meaningless saccharine like this, from the Washington Post, which broke the story in the first place, but did it so sotto voce that you couldn't have discerned its importance if it were the onyl story on Page One:
Bush has expressed disappointment that no weapons or weapons programs were found, but the White House has been reluctant to call off the hunt, holding out the possibility that weapons were moved out of Iraq before the war or are well-hidden somewhere inside the country. But the intelligence official said that possibility is very small.
It is really nice to know that one of the preeminent newspapers in the land of the First Amendment can find it within itself to acknowledge that our president is a man who can handle a little disappointment.

What is a major disappointment here in the wilderness is that the fourth estate has completely and utterly surrendered its role as public watchdog. This is the institution that published the Pentagon Papers in the face of harassment by Richard Nixon? What Nixon couldn't do with subpoenas and court cases in the Seventies, the "free press" has done to itself.

Next: Will an accounting be demanded?