July 18, 2005

Hayes Follow-Up

As promised, Stephen Hayes is supplementing his important essay from last week (co-written with Thomas Joscelyn) on the substantial and longstanding links between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda. Today's article wonders aloud why The DIA and CIA Go MIA.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Iraq-al Qaeda connection is why reporters have shown so little interest in covering it. The secret relationship between America's two most dangerous enemies and the results of their collaboration would seem to have many of the elements journalists look for in a potential story. And for many reporters at mainstream news outlets such as ABC News, Newsweek, and the Associated Press it was a familiar story. Journalists throughout the 1990s covered the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship with some regularity.

By early 1999, ABC News was running stories describing the "long relationship" between the Iraqi regime and al Qaeda. The Associated Press reported that the Iraqi regime had extended to bin Laden an offer of safehaven in Baghdad. The wire service was apparently so sure of its information that attribution was deemed unnecessary.

Among the many reasons journalists today don't seem particularly interested in covering the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, three stand out. First, the mainstream press long ago settled on a storyline to describe the case for the Iraq War: the Bush administration lied, or at least exaggerated, to take us to war. Second, the Bush administration is doing little to encourage journalists to write a corrective. Third, intelligence sources, as the DIA example makes clear, have no interest in setting the story straight.

The agenda of the media is at least familiar, if inexcusable. But the disinterest of the intelligence community in digging for answers which might potentially refute their earlier assessments is indeed frightening. It sounds like the same kind of groupthink, bureaucratic inertia and careerism in the intelligence community that was criticized by the 9/11 Commission.

Posted by dan at July 18, 2005 11:27 PM