Everyone’s a Critic

Reporting on the kickoff of John Kerry’s coast-to-coast campaign swing which begins today, Darlene Superville of the Associated Press writes: “Kerry, referring to critics’ claims that the president’s decision to invade Iraq was based on faulty evidence, promised immediate reforms of the U.S. intelligence system …”

“Critics’ claims”?

It’s hardly just the president’s “critics” who assert that the decision to invade Iraq was based on faulty intelligence. As The New York Times reported earlier this month, “the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that the most pivotal assessments used to justify the war against Iraq were unfounded and unreasonable, and reflected major missteps by American intelligence agencies.”

The Times continued:

“In the end, what the president and the Congress used to send the country to war was information provided by the intelligence community, and that information was flawed,” said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the panel’s Republican chairman.

Even Mr. Roberts, an ardent supporter of the war, said he was not sure that Congress would have authorized the war had it known of the flimsiness on which the prewar intelligence assessments were based.

The AP is bending over so far backwards to appear “objective,” and to avoid sounding harsh toward the president, that it ends up misleading readers about a major event that’s been at the center of a crucial national debate.

When the facts are harsh, it’s all that much more important for reporters to give them to readers straight.

Zachary Roth

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.