Rummy vs Buckley on Iraq: A HuffPost Time Saver!
The Pentagon just released its latest quarterly progress report (PDF) on Iraq. The report, entitled "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," is 56 pages long. And since I know how busy you all are, let me give you a shortcut: turn on CNN. It's. Not. Going. Well.
A very important column on the subject has been posted on National Review Online by conservative icon Bill Buckley. "The kernel here is the acknowledgement of defeat," he writes. "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed... The administration has, now, to cope with failure."
These are the charter members of the pundit-payola wing of the Journalism Hall of Shame. It's time to add Bob Woodward to that ignominious list.
As reported by Murray Waas, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, in a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, made Woodward's book, Bush at War, Exhibit A in making his case about the Bush administration's "blatant abuse of intelligence information for political purposes."
Waas points out how Bush pushed CIA agents to cooperate with Woodward and quotes a former administration official as saying, "This was something the White House wanted done because they considered it good public relations... This was done for presidential image-making."
Williams was given $241,000 to promote No Child Left Behind. Woodward was paid in unmatched access to Bush administration officials, including, as he boasted in Plan of Attack, "war cabinet members, the White House staff and officials serving at various levels of the State and Defense Departments and the Central Intelligence Agency." He was also given, in the words of Rockefeller (PDF), "almost unfettered access to classified material of the most sensitive nature." Woodward then turned this access and information into megabuck book deals.
Armstrong and the payola pundits have been vilified for their administration agitprop. Woodward continues to be held up as a journalistic superstar -- at least on Larry King, where he and Carl Bernstein were given the royal treatment during an appearance last week to promote a special 30-year anniversary DVD edition of All the President's Men.
As the clips of the cinematic Woodward and Bernstein bringing down the Nixon presidency played, I couldn't help but wonder if it gave the flesh-and-blood Woodward pause. Did it make him think about how far he's moved on the whistleblower's continuum -- falling from the glory of meeting with Deep Throat in that parking garage to learn the secrets that would lay bare the illegal activity of the Nixon White House to being given officially sanctioned leaks by the Bush White House that would help them sell their prewar deceptions?
Don't expect any 30-year anniversary celebrations of that.
What Goes with Birdshot, White or Red?
Thanks to The Smoking Gun, we now know that "no, zero, zippo" -- ranch owner Katharine Armstrong's infamous (and seemingly definitive) description of whether the Cheney hunting party had been drinking -- includes both beer and wine.
In her witness statement, belatedly released by the Kenedy County Sheriff's office in response to an open-records request filed by TSG and other news organizations, Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein, admits to having had a glass of wine with lunch the day of the shooting. No word on whether it was red or white, French or Californian, or what happened to the rest of the bottle.
So Cheney had a brewski and the ambassador had a little vino. But other than that, "No one was drinking," right, Ms. Armstong?
You should also check out the two statements of Katharine Armstrong's sister, Sarita Armstrong Hixon. She forgot to hit the crucial "no alcohol" talking point in her initial statement, so she had to file a supplementary statement later that day in which she claimed "To my knowledge, none of the members of my shooting group the afternoon of February 11, 2006 at Armstrong Ranch consumed any alcoholic beverage."
To her knowledge, indeed.