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June 25, 2004

Takedown: Andrew "St. Elmo's Fire" McCarthy Destroys the NYT

Actually, they destroyed themselves, but Mr. Andrew "Class" McCarthy documents the self-destruction.

Best bits:

To be clear, the document records that it was Iraq which initiated the contacts, and that bin Laden finally agreed to discuss cooperation only after having spurned previous overtures because he "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative[.]"

Why does it matter who was enticing whom? On June 17, when, despite having this document, it was trashing the whole notion of an Iraq/Qaeda connection, the Times asserted without qualification that: The 9/11 Commission had found that any collaboration proposals had come from bin Laden's side; all such proposals had been declined by Saddam; and this scenario undermined the Bush administration's rationale for deposing the Iraqi regime. (The Times on June 17: "As for Iraq, the commission's staff said its investigation showed that the government of Mr. Hussein had rebuffed or ignored requests from Qaeda leaders for help in the 1990's, a conclusion that directly contradicts a series of public statements President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made before and after last year's invasion of Iraq in justifying the war.")

This document, in the possession of the NYT since April, directly and unambiguously contradicts a central claim that the NYT made on June 17th.

Will there be a correction, Ms. Collins? We know that you don't require Paul Krugman to issue corrections for flat-out misstatements; are you now extending this same, err, liberal corrections policy to yourself as well?

...the reader who has the patience to wade through several paragraphs of the Times disingenuously letting itself off the hook for refusing for weeks to report on this document will learn that what the newspaper really means when it says bin Laden's suggestions "went unanswered." In actuality, "the document contains no statement of response by the Iraqi leadership under Mr. Hussein to the request for joint operations[.]" Translation: Maybe there was a response and maybe there wasn't, but this document does not tell us one way or the other.

Hmmm. Couldn't have said it better myself.

Why is this important? Because it is the continuation of a pattern β€” another instance of an effective but misleading tactic repeatedly used by the Times, the intelligence community, the 9/11 Commission staff, and all the Iraq/Qaeda connection naysayers. To wit: When they can't explain something, they never say they can't explain it; they say it didn't happen β€” even if saying so is against the weight of considerable counterevidence.

Best example? The 9/11 Commission staff, as gleefully reported by the Times last week, has concluded that there was not a meeting between top-hijacker Mohammed Atta and Iraqi Intelligence Officer Ahmed al-Ani in Prague five months before the 9/11 attacks. There is an eyewitness (a watcher for Czech intelligence) who says he saw them together, and there is substantial corroboration (including an entry in al-Ani's appointment calendar that he was to meet with a "Hamburg student," a pair of highly suspicious trips that Atta undoubtedly made to Prague in 2000 right before coming to the United States, and the fact that no witness has been found who can say he saw Atta in the U.S. when the Czechs say he was in Prague). Did the 9/11 Commission staff actually interview the eyewitness? No. Did the staff or the Times discuss the corroboration that supports the occurrence of the Prague meeting? No. Did either of them grapple with what is to be inferred from Atta's trips to Prague in 2000? No β€” not a word about them. Just a flat conclusion that the meeting never happened.

Since it's Clinton week, maybe it's best to put it this way: For the Times and its allies, Iraq and al Qaeda are like the former president's trysts: If there ain't a blue cocktail dress, it never happened. If there isn't a photograph of Atta and al-Ani poring over diagrams of the World Trade Center, we just conclude that they never saw each other, and we see no reason to acknowledge that there's considerable evidence that they probably did.

It's all good. A must read.

And it's good to see Andrew McCarthy getting some work again. I always liked that kid. When he would bug out his eyes on the verge of tears to indicate "inner torment" -- that's what I call acting, my friends.

Update: Andrew McCarthy bitch-slaps the New York Times a second time, this time over its dishonest Abu Ghraib reporting. This bitch-slapping more brutal than his deleted braining of "Duckie/The Duckman" in Pretty in Pink (seen only in the Japanese import "Director's Cut" of the film, titled (in Japanese) Goofy Sillyboy Gets His Head Smashed Open With Hammer By Funny Happy Man Wearing Piano-Key Tie; the senseless, brain-sloshing beating initially earned the film an X-rating stateside).


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