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Fred Hiatt’s Washington Post editorial page, having misrepresented the scientific data on global warming, now takes one more step down the yellow brick road by taking on the Charles Freeman affair. Freeman withdrew from consideration as chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) on Tuesday; he laid the blame for his withdrawal on the Israel lobbies. The Post‘s editorial-page response:
Crackpot tirades such as his have always had an eager audience here and around the world. The real question is why an administration that says it aims to depoliticize U.S. intelligence estimates would have chosen such a man to oversee them.
So any talk about the Israel lobbies and their influence is “crackpot” in the world of Fred Hiatt. Then how do you explain the Post’s own reporting on the subject by Walter Pincus, the dean of Washington’s national security reporters? Here’s what Pincus wrote:
Only a few Jewish organizations came out publicly against Freeman’s appointment, but a handful of pro-Israeli bloggers and employees of other organizations worked behind the scenes to raise concerns with members of Congress, their staffs and the media. For example, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), often described as the most influential pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington, “took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it,” spokesman Josh Block said.
But Block responded to reporters’ questions and provided critical material about Freeman, albeit always on background, meaning his comments could not be attributed to him, according to three journalists who spoke to him. Asked about this yesterday, Block replied: “As is the case with many, many issues every day, when there is general media interest in a subject, I often provide publicly available information to journalists on background.” Yesterday, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which tried to derail Freeman’s appointment, applauded his withdrawal. But it added: “We think Israel and any presumed ‘lobby’ had far less effect on the outcome than the common-sensical belief that the person who is the gatekeeper of intelligence information for the President of the United States should be unencumbered by payments from foreign governments.”
Do Hiatt and his sidekick Jackson Diehl actually read their paper’s own reporting? It looks doubtful. In any event, I have every confidence in Pincus’s reporting; he’s hardly a crackpot. On the other hand, the editorial page seems to provide more ballast for the Mearsheimer and Walt thesis, particularly when, as today, it tells us, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”