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Pundits Trying to Help Cheney Avoid Jail

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The stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are missing the most obvious explanation for former Vice President Dick Cheney's widely reported "disappointment" with former President George W. Bush on the issue of pardons - self-interest.

Barton Gellman of the Washington Post has now joined feature writers from Time in aping Cheney's hagiographer in chief, Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard. They all choose to dote on Cheney's loyalty to his former chief of staff, Irv Lewis "Scooter" Libby, while ignoring reasons why Cheney might have hoped for a presidential pardon himself.

Gellman is a talented journalist with a tainted record. He wrote a truly shameless article for the Post when it was competing with The New York Times for cheerleading laurels prior to the war on Iraq.

First Leak It; Then Confirm It

Remember those dangerous sounding "aluminum tubes" said to be procured by Iraq to develop a nuclear bomb - the ones that turned out to be for conventional artillery? The Bush administration tasked the Times' Judith Miller and Michael Gordon to push the canard that the tubes' technical properties showed the intended use to be as casings for rotors in centrifuges to enrich uranium, a key step in producing a nuclear bomb. The pair rose to the occasion with flair.

The Times front-paged their story on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002; and on the morning talk shows Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice all referred to the Times story. The ploy worked like a charm. None of the talk show hosts dared ask an impolite question - like who gave the information to the Times.

The Post's Gellman was suborned into doing a similar story on chemical weapons in the fall of 2002, when the White House was fuming at recalcitrant analysts in both the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA. The not-yet-corrupted intelligence analysts still there could simply not get the hang of it. They were having a hard time, sans evidence, in producing faith-based intelligence on "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq.

DIA had issued a formal report saying there was no evidence of active chemical or biological weapons programs. And CIA analysts could find no credible evidence of meaningful ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite the extreme pressure to find some. (The CIA ombudsman told the Senate Intelligence Committee there occurred a "hammering" of analysts more severe than any he had seen in his 32-year career in the analysis directorate.)

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Gellman to the Rescue

On Dec. 12, 2002, the Post front-paged a Gellman report that "Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or in late October." The story was attributed to "two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source."

Lest any readers miss the import, Gellman stressed that, if true, this "would be the most concrete evidence to support the charge, aired for months by President Bush and his advisers, that al Qaeda terrorists receive material assistance in Iraq." The next 27 paragraphs of Gellman's story were so laden with caveats and the subjunctive mood that they brought to mind Alice's plaintive cry in Wonderland:

"There is no use trying, said Alice; one can't believe impossible things. I dare say you haven't had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

The Dec. 12, 2002 Post article drew loud complaints, including from the paper's ombudsman, Michael Getler, who asked: "What, after all, is the use of this story that practically begs you not to put much credence in it? Why was it so prominently displayed, and why not wait until there was more certainty about the intelligence?"

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Come on, Getler; you know why. Bush and Cheney were scraping for evidence to "justify" attacking Iraq. Gellman and your paper were happy to oblige.

Having proved his mettle, Gellman was able to acquire the kind of access to Cheney and his palace guard that would enable him to write a useful book, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, with some stunning revelations.

Cheney Lied to House Majority Leader

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)

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