There’s an item from Monday’s Wall Street Journal editorial page that has been floating around, and is just too priceless not to comment on. The piece, by Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), not only claims that Iraq is loaded with those elusive WMD’s, but also speculates that the media and the nation’s intelligence services have cowed the president into remaining mum on the subject.
Twenty-second pause while we allow you to go back and wrap your mind around that paragraph again. Okay, ready now? Here we go:
At the request of the two congressmen, the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, declassified six “key points” from a National Ground Intelligence Center report about the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq. Hoekstra and Santorum quote part of the report: “‘Since 2003 … Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent,’ which remains ‘hazardous and potentially lethal.’” From this, Hoekstra and Santorum conclude that, “there are WMDs in Iraq, and they could kill Americans there or all over the world.”
Bracing stuff, but on the WMD front, Hoekstra and Santorum were scooped back in September 2004 by the Iraq Survey Group, which found that “While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter.”
So much for that part. What about the other part — the part that explains why this headline news has remained unreported? Well, Hoekstra and Santorum have an explanation for that, too. They write that it is “the intelligence community [that] 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.” (Emphasis ours)
Though Hoekstra and Santorum concede that “[t]he president is the ultimate classifier and declassifier of information,” they make it clear that despite this, it’s still the work of bureaucrats with “friends in the media” that has kept this particular blockbuster under wraps. Those two statements, taken together, don’t come anywhere close to adding up, but the two Congressmen-turned-reporters are obviously so undeterred by their own lazy contradictions that logical consistency has been tossed by the wayside.
Let’s get it straight: The story has been a non-starter mostly because we’ve heard all of this before (in the Iraq Survey Group’s report), and evidence shows that that chemicals in question dated from before the 1991 Gulf War. In fact, a “senior Defense Department official” told Fox News that “This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991,” and the munitions found “are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war.”
But some won’t let the dream die. Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell, never one to miss an opportunity to slam the media, takes a page from the congressional dynamic duo and wonders if the Bush administration is staying mum on the subject due to some form of “intimidation by the media.”
There you have it: Put Hoekstra and Santorum’s vision together with Bozell’s and what emerges is the picture of a muscular press, sitting astride Washington D.C. like an inky colossus, so sure of itself that it can cow presidents and spooks alike.
Surely that’s why Hoekstra and Santorum’s big scoop hasn’t broken through the mainstream media’s “filter.”