February 05, 2004

The Imminent Meme

Note the (not so) subtle bias in this NYT piece on Tenet's defense of Langley's handling of the WMD intel:

"But is has become abundantly clear that the multifaceted debate over intelligence findings on Iraq will not dissipate soon. The debate involves motives, and it involves subtle word distinctions.

Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, insisted on Jan. 27 that President Bush had never said that Iraq posed an "imminent" threat. Rather, Mr. McClellan said, the president saw a "grave and growing" threat." [emphasis added]

We are warned of dark, inscrutable "motives" at play.

We are alerted to "subtle word distinctions" (and I thought this was a Clinton era specialty?).

And McClellan "insisted"?

Put differently, we all (wink wink) know these White House claims (that Bush never said the Iraq threat was imminent) are risibly bogus...

Of course, as has often been pointed out in the blogosphere, Bush said as follows in his SOTU address:

"Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option." [emphasis added]

So who is doing the insisting here?

Scott McClellan turning to the actual record of Presidential pronouncements?

Or the Times, breathing continued life into the hyped up "Bush said the threat was imminent!" meme?

Oh, and take a look at this part of Tenet's speech of today (he is discussing CIA analysts in this passage):

"They never said there was an imminent threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policy-makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests. No one told us what to say or how to say it." [my emphasis]

CIA analysts never said the threat was imminent.

Bush didn't either.

But the Times crudely intimates that, of course, Bush did.

To deny this would be constitutive of buffoonish moronity and/or the tell-tale mark of a full-blown, shameless Bush apologist, didn't you know?

Or perhaps merely that you don't live on the Upper West Side.

UPDATE: Glenn has more on this in relation to the A.P..

MORE FROM B.D.: For analysis of Tenet's highly important speech go here.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Times has "updated" their story on Tenet's speech so the language I quote above is no longer available on their website.

They have now got a Douglas Jehl piece up.

Go read Tenet's speech at my "More from B.D." link directly above. Read my analysis too, if time allows.

Then read Jehl's lede:

"George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, acknowledged today for the first time that American spy agencies may have overestimated Iraq's illicit weapons capabilities, in part because of a failure to penetrate the inner workings of the Iraqi government."

I ask you, does this lede fairly capture the essence of Tenet's speech?

Or is this Grade A NYT spin?

Posted by Gregory at February 5, 2004 10:30 PM
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