A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

Grievously Distorting the 9/11 Commission’s Staff Report

Posted by ssbg on January 8, 2006


6-18-2004 09111.jpg

I said yesterday that I wasn’t going to waste my time blogging about the fact that nearly every media outlet in the country has distorted the 9/11 Commission’s staff report. Too many news outlets have done it, and there are already hundreds of bloggers covering the issue. (A good example of a post taking the Washington Post and New York Times to task is here.)

But I’ll make an exception for our local Los Angeles Dog Trainer, because my blood boiled when I read its incredibly unfair story distorting the staff report this morning. The story bears the misleading title Despite Findings, Bush Sees Iraq Tie to Al Qaeda. With every word, the story tells us that the 9/11 Commission’s staff report contradicts what the Bush Administration has said (and continues to say) about ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq/Saddam Hussein:

President Bush insisted Thursday that Saddam Hussein had “terrorist connections? to Al Qaeda ? despite a finding by the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks that there was no credible evidence of cooperation between the ousted Iraqi dictator and the global terrorist network.

In a television interview later in the day, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged the commission’s finding more strongly, arguing that the evidence of Hussein’s ties to Al Qaeda and other terrorists “is overwhelming.? Cheney criticized what he called “outrageous? and “irresponsible? media reports for distorting the issue. [Patterico says: Cheney’s being far too restrained here.]

The comments marked the latest in a series of disputes between the White House and the bipartisan panel.

Okay, you got that? According to the Dog Trainer, the White House’s claims of connections between Al Qaeda and Iraq/Saddam come “despite? findings to the contrary, and constitute a “challenge? to the commission’s findings, creating a “dispute? between the Administration and the commission. 

Now let’s hear from Lee Hamilton, the Democrat Vice Chairman of the commission:  0lee.jpg

I must say I have trouble understanding the flack over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s government. We don’t disagree with that. What we have said is [that] we don’t have any evidence of a cooperative, or a corroborative relationship between Saddam Hussein’s government and these al Qaeda operatives with regard to the attacks on the United States. So it seems to me the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me.

Here’s Lee Hamilton reinforcing the point on Chris Matthews’s Hardball

There are all kinds of ties. There are all kinds of connections. And it may very well have been that Osama bin Laden or some of his lieutenants met at some time with Saddam Hussein lieutenants.

They had contacts, but what we did not find was any operational tie with respect to attacks on the United States.

These statements echo what the Republican chairman of the commission, Thomas Kean, said recently: “What we have found is, were there contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq? Yes. Some of them were shadowy – but they were there.? 

Here’s the amazing (if predictable) part: none of these quotes appears in the Dog Trainer story. The closest it comes is to say, deep in the story, that “Thomas H. Kean, the commission chairman, told reporters Thursday that the panel did not dispute that Hussein’s government and Al Qaeda had been in contact.? The article then quickly quotes Kean as denying the existence of credible evidence that “Iraq and Saddam Hussein were in any way part of the attack on the United States? — as if that is what the Bush Administration has claimed. No quotes from Lee Hamilton appear in the piece.

The paper then positively mocks the Administration’s claim that its past statements are consistent with the commission’s findings:

“At this point, the White House position is just frankly bizarre,? said Daniel Benjamin, a terrorism expert who served in the Clinton White House. “You’ve had a bipartisan committee sift through all this intelligence. There is no indication that they have anything different at their disposal than the White House has?. They’re just repeating themselves, rather than admit they were wrong.?

White House officials gave no ground.

Scott McClellan, the president’s spokesman, repeatedly insisted Thursday that the commission report was “perfectly consistent? with the administration’s public statements about Iraq over the last two years.

That crazy Scott McClellan! He has the gall to “repeatedly insist? on something that nobody believes! Never mind that he is “repeatedly insisting? on the exact same thing said by the two top people on the 9/11 Commission! Never mind that one of those top people is a Democrat! 

Also: never mind the fact that the staff report itself shows that McClellan is right!


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