Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Quote of the Day (tomorrow)

This is from the main editorial in tomorrow's Opinion Journal, written by U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum about intelligence documents that discuss the presence of WMDs in Iraq:
The president is the ultimate classifier and declassifier of information, but the entire matter has now been so politicized that, in practice, he is often paralyzed. If he were to order the declassification of a document pointing to the existence of WMDs in Iraq, he would be instantly accused of "cherry picking" and "politicizing intelligence." He may therefore not be inclined to act.

In practice, then, the intelligence community decides what the American public and its elected officials can know and when they will learn it. Sometimes those decisions are made by top officials, while on other occasions they are made by unnamed bureaucrats with friends in the media. People who leak the existence of sensitive intelligence programs like the terrorist surveillance program or financial tracking programs to either damage the administration or help al Qaeda, or perhaps both, are using the release or withholding of documents to advance their political desires, even as they accuse others of manipulating intelligence.
It goes on to make an interesting comparison (intentional or not, I'm not sure) about those who use the media as a tool:
Information is a potent weapon in the current war. Al Qaeda uses the Internet very effectively and uses the media as a terrorist tool. If the American public can be deceived by people who withhold basic information, we risk losing the war at home, even if we win it on the battlefield. The debate should focus on the basic question--what, exactly, we need to do to succeed both here and in Iraq. We are dismayed to have learned how many people in our own government are trying to distort that debate.
(I can already hear the far left yelling, "The American public have been deceived by an administration that withheld basic information about going to war!" If you really believe that, you might think about cutting out that fifth cup of coffee in the morning.)

The question is, which is the enemy: the Al Qaeda operative who slips disinformation to the New York Times? The New York Times, which prints it? Or the U.S. government employee that deliberately withholds or distorts information that might bolster the president's arguments?

I vote for all three. And I believe the tide is turning against them all.


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