So much for the judicial use of anonymous sources by The Washington Post. But in this case, it’s somewhat understandable, given that most of the sources are either of current or past intelligence officers. By talking to the press, even is they are retired, there could be dire consequences. And given this administration’s track record, e.g., Joe Wilson, it’s good bet there would be vindictive consequences.

The story’s lede is unequivocal.

A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.

Kevin Drum has a summary of some of the comments, if you don’t want to read the whole story. But I recommend reading it. The entirety of the charge is overwhelming.

The administration’s sunny optimism, even that based on false evidence as Wilson pointed out, is getting a boost from CBS, according to FAIR. CBS is holding a story about the “forged documents that the Bush administration used to sell the Iraq war….”

CBS, which in the past refused to run MoveOn’s ad about the Bush deficits during the Super Bowl (and gave us Janet Jackson’s breast instead) and pulled the Regan documentary after pressure from the GOP that it was too critical, decided the timing was off.

A network spokesperson issued a statement declaring, “We now believe it would be inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election.”

Why in the world would a news organization withhold information because it’s too close to an election? Are they afraid it might hurt the candidate they love? FAIR says that’s a legitimate question.

Maybe CBS is too embarrassed after being duped by false documents about Bush’s national Guard service, or lack thereof. But FAIR points to another reason.

Sumner Redstone, CEO of CBS’s parent company Viacom, made an unusual political statement at a gathering of corporate leaders in Hong Kong (Asian Wall Street Journal, 9/24/04):

“I don’t want to denigrate Kerry… but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on. The Democrats are not bad people…. But from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company.”

Redstone repeated these sentiments in an interview with Time (10/4/04):

“There has been comment upon my contribution to Democrats like Senator Kerry. Senator Kerry is a good man. I’ve known him for many years. But it happens that I vote for Viacom. Viacom is my life, and I do believe that a Republican administration is better for media companies than a Democratic one.”

According to a write-up by Forbes (9/23/04)– the sponsor of the conference where Redstone issued his endorsement of Bush– the CEO asserted that “he never gets involved in any aspects of the network’s news coverage.” But that claim, hard to believe when made by any media industry chief executive, seems particularly dubious given Forbes’ report that ”Redstone said he has been talking daily to top CBS officials and to Viacom board members about the controversy” over the Guard memos.

Ironically, the report was supposed to air the night CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran the story about Bush’s National Guard service.

You can write CBS at or call them at 212.975.3247 to complain about the network’s bias.