July 16, 2003

The Independent: Cheney Under Pressure

The Independent: Cheney Under Pressure to Quit!

More tabloid-style journalism devoid of any serious fact-based reporting at supposed quality newspapers. Check out this absurd headline from the Independent.

What is this mega-hyped story based on?

A group of allegedly "senior former intelligence officials" sent "an open letter to President George Bush" asking that Bush demand Cheney's resignation over the various WMD flaps.

Well folks, here it is via Counterpunch. A group calling itself the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity penned the letter (proudly noting it was published on Bastille Day!) and it is signed by three individuals who don't even bother to state their affiliations or any relevant professional experience:

Ray Close, Princeton, NJ
David MacMichael, Linden, VA
Raymond McGovern, Arlington, VA

For a representative sampler of what might one typically find over at Counterpunch check this story out.

Cheney must be very worried right now, feeling very Spiro Agnewish.

Can you believe the Independent is headlining this story at this hour at their Internet site? (See more on how this might have gotten to the Independent via the NYT at the second "update" below)

UPDATE: MacMichael and McGovern have teamed up before on WMD-related musings over at Counterpunch. But I guess they had never gotten around to sending a letter to the President before--thus ostensibly making this letter newsworthy over at Robert Fisk/Independent land. Here's how the duo state their bona fides at the end of this piece:

"Ray McGovern worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He co-authored this article with David MacMichael. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is a coast-to-coast enterprise; mostly intelligence officers from analysis side of CIA."

A "coast-to-coast enterprise"? From Cambridge to Berkeley doubtless. Sounds like a serious entity, huh? I think even the Guardian would steer clear of this story...

FURTHER UPDATE: Yesterday, Atlantic Blog blogged about VIPS in relation to a Nick Kristof column that mentioned the outfit. Sjostrom has more info on the group well worth reading.

I have to wager that Nick Kristof didn't realize how fringe these retired spooks were. He should have done more research on the matter before prominently mentioning their letter to Bush in the op-ed pages of the NYT.

The result? Outlets like the Independent pick it up, headline it, and tens of thousands of Brits will likely think Cheney might be on his way out (which, in turn, heightens pressure on Blair in the already highly contested climate). Talk about poor, politically-motivated journalism.

HERE'S ANOTHER UPDATE: The Independent no longer headlines this story (though hasn't retracted or modified it im any way and it's still available at the original link above) but now leads with this anti-american screed:

The opening graf sets the tone:

"Only three months ago, they were the smiling masters of the universe, liberators who had watched their armies roll up a supposedly formidable Middle Eastern foe as easily as a child swats away a fly. How different it will be when George Bush and Tony Blair meet in Washington today."

Later in the article we have a whole range of modifiers thrown at the reader: 1) "meekly" (describing Tony Blair, of course, playing poodle); 2) "oh-so-reasonable" (Powell); 3) "willing fall-guy" (DCI Tenet, but only "so far" we are ominously clued in); 4) bullying (Rummy); 5) "tenacious" (Condi Rice fighting off all the critics circling the White House!); and, the kicker, 6) a "limp and stumbling" President Bush.

Wow, and this is the Indepenent's Washington Bureau Chief writing in. His Beltway ouevre must be judicious indeed! Check out too how he shamelessly lifts a Groucho Marx quote at the end of his piece: "Who are you going to believe - me, or your own two eyes?"

How witty--except that Mike Kinsley used it in an oped just yesterday in the WaPo--that the Independent Washington bureau chief surely read, no?

Meanwhile, the risible Cheney under pressure to resign story is alive and well on the Independent's site.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE:

Far from resigning, Cheney, according to Matt Drudge, is getting ready to hit back at Administration critics:

"Vice President Cheney telling House GOP leaders: Bush admin getting ready to go on a public relations offensive, attempt to recast debate on Niger, WMDs, including bringing back Mary Matalin for spin control... Developing... "

Posted by Gregory at July 16, 2003 09:41 PM
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