After criticizing this morning’s Washington Post story on Jim Webb, I want to be fair about the good reporting The Post does, for it far outweighs the transgressions it sometimes makes. I noticed these examples yesterday but didn’t get around to commenting.
The first example was Peter Baker’s story about the dust-up over who is to blame for not taking Osama bin Laden seriously.
[Former President Bill Clinton] said that after the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, “I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan.” The Sept. 11 commission, though, found no plans for an invasion of Afghanistan or for an operation to topple the Taliban, [emphasis added] just more limited options such as plans for attacks with cruise missiles or Special Forces. And nothing in the panel’s report indicated that a lack of basing rights in Uzbekistan prevented a military response.
Clinton also asserted that the Bush administration “didn’t have a single meeting about bin Laden for the nine months after I left office.” In fact, the Bush team held several meetings on terrorism through the interagency group known as the deputies committee and one on Sept. 4, 2001, through the principals committee composed of Cabinet officers. What Clinton may have been referring to was counterterrorism chief Richard A. Clarke’s frustration that the principals disregarded his urgent calls to meet sooner because of a months-long policy review. [emphasis added]
Rice came under fire for her assertion that “we were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaeda” by Clinton’s team. In fact, Clarke sent Rice an al-Qaeda memo on Jan. 25, 2001, along with a strategy to “roll back” the terrorist network, but the Bush team decided to conduct the policy review. [emphasis added]
Another example is in the analysis by Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus on the recent NIE estimate.
In announcing yesterday that he would release the key judgments of a controversial National Intelligence Estimate, President Bush said he agreed with the document’s conclusion “that because of our successes against the leadership of al-Qaeda, the enemy is becoming more diffuse and independent.”
But the estimate itself posits no such cause and effect. [emphasis added] Instead, while it notes that counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged and disrupted al-Qaeda’s leadership, it describes the spreading “global jihadist movement” as fueled largely by forces that al-Qaeda exploits but is not actively directing. They include Iraq, corrupt and unjust governments in Muslim-majority countries, and “pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims.”
More reporters need to point out when the facts belie the spin.
But later on in the article, can anyone explain to me what is meant by this passage?
Democratic claims of an administration coverup seemed less justified yesterday as it became apparent that the complete classified report had been made available to lawmakers within days of its completion in April.
Copies of the NIE were sent to the House and Senate intelligence, armed services and foreign affairs committees at the time, through normal electronic information channels available to all members, intelligence and congressional sources said. It arrived at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on April 26.
In the House, “there was a bit of a snafu with this particular document,” said a spokesman for Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the intelligence committee chairman. “We had a massive computer failure on our classified side.” The first that the committee knew of its existence was late last week, when “it was requested specifically by a member. That was when it was found and scanned into our system.”
Whether the document was ignored or disappeared into cyberspace, however, it seemed to have made little impact on Capitol Hill at the time. No one in either chamber, on either side of the aisle, requested a briefing or any further information on its conclusions until now, the sources said.
“[A] snafu with the document”? Was it even known to Democrats that the document was available? The passage doesn’t make that clear.