Jewish World Review Oct. 28, 2004 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
Debra J. Saunders
As The New York Times put it Wednesday, "The New York Times, working with the CBS News program '60 Minutes,' reported that the (380 tons of powerful) explosives at al Qaqaa, mainly HMX and RDX, had disappeared since the invasion." There's one little problem: The Times doesn't know that the high-power explosives "disappeared" after the invasion. And it doesn't speak well for the Gray Lady that if fails to recognize, three days into this story, that it is reporting as fact assertions its reporters haven't nailed down.
"I've never seen such a flagrant intervention from the media," Rep. Pete King, R-New York, told me over the phone Wednesday.
"60 Minutes" already has a bad story in its basket -- the phony National Guard smear on President Bush. The New York Times attributed the missing weapons to looting before interviewing anyone from the Army's 101st Airborne Division, King noted. Worse, the source of the story is International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, whose reappointment has been opposed by the Bush administration.
There is no proof that Saddam Hussein or his Baathist lieutenants didn't raid the stock before the invasion. Yet days into the story, The New York Times is sticking with its first impression.
Oh, and here's a little item you have to go to the New York Sun to read: U.S. weapons inspector Charles Duelfer had asked the IAEA to remove the al Qaqaa bombs in 1995 -- but the IAEA refused. As Duelfer told the Sun, "The policy was if acquired for the WMD program and used for it, it should be subject to destruction. The HMX was just that. Nevertheless, the IAEA decided to let Iraq keep the stuff, like they needed more explosives."
So the source of the NYT story about Bush letting the bad bombs get away was: the agency that was supposed to destroy the weapons but chose instead to let Hussein keep them.
Sen. John Kerry doesn't care. Camp Kerry jumped on the issue and started running TV spots bashing Bush for losing the explosives, saying Bush's "misjudgments" could cost American lives.
Bush is right that Kerry was wrong to embrace this story "60 Minutes"-style before it has been verified. But the real issue is that Kerry has blamed Bush for everything. Why is Osama bin Laden still alive? It's because of Bush. (Forget that Kerry voiced no qualms about diverting troops from the hunt for bin Laden to a hunt for Hussein when he voted authority for the war.)
Kerry has spent the war -- well, the war since support for it softened in the polls -- speaking as if the war would be going so much better if only he were in charge. Kerry promised that the United States would have real allies -- unhindered by the fact that his rhetoric undermines allies who already have shed blood in Iraq. Kerry promises more troops -- while bashing Bush for the war's price tag.
Kerry spinner Joe Lockhart explained that Bush is responsible for the missing bombs because of his decision to not listen to Army Chief of Staff Erik Shinseki, who told Bush to send more troops to Iraq, when Lockhart knows Bush listened to another general, Tommy Franks, who insisted it wasn't necessary.
This criticism is over the top. Is it unpatriotic to criticize Bush on Iraq? Certainly there are patriots who always opposed the war, and they can't be expected to stop criticizing Bush now.
Kerry, however, voted for the war, so he shouldn't be talking in a way that undermines victory by essentially elevating every setback and ignoring every victory.
Things are better in Iraq, King noted, than anyone would guess from the media coverage. (King just got back from his latest trip to Iraq last week.) He remembers visiting last year and being surprised to see an amusement park in Mosul so jammed, its parking lots overflowed. On this trip, he saw a Baghdad with schools and a hospital reopened. Because Americans don't see that Baghdad on their TVs, he noted, they are "much less supportive than they would be if they saw everything that was happening over there."
To listen to Kerry, there is only failure in Iraq.
What happens if Kerry is elected, I asked Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, on a conference call, and high-profile ordnance is looted, there are more problems in military prisons, and bin Laden is thought to be located but then not captured? Will all that be on Kerry's doorstep?
"Sure," Biden answered. "We're going to inherit a God-awful mess."
Which I take to mean that anything that goes wrong in a Kerry White House will still be Bush's fault.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate