Let's Check Traffic

It's easy the day before Thanksgiving to forgive national news channels for doing what they're increasingly doing anyway--turning into local news writ large. So, CNN and Fox both spray the screen with live feeds of--traffic from around the country. Looks like Dallas is jamming up a little bit there. Smooth flow in LA. It's major-league jive, because these live shots are snapshots of one particular stretch of one particular road: it's a way of touching a base--look how we cover your world!--without telling people anything useful.

But it's a little harder to forgive CNN totally ignoring one of the day's major stories, invisible on either the network or CNN.com--Murray Waas' piece in the National Journal on the contents of the President's Daily intel Brief for Sept. 21, 2001. This is the first time the President was briefed, post 9/11, on the question of links between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, and the briefing indicated that:

the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

That damn CIA, they got something right. This is the same brief that was denied to the Senate Intelligence Commitee--hey, doesn't Congress get the same intel the President does?--and the 9/11 Commission.

Waas'piece also contains major new details about the work of Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans in creating an alternate intel stream for the true believers, including this note scribbled by Vice President Cheney at the bottom of one of the OSP briefing papers:

"This is very good indeed … Encouraging … Not like the crap we are all so used to getting out of CIA."

MSNBC has had this story on their air. What's CNN's excuse? Oh, that's right, traffic.