Thursday, December 09, 2004

Iraq Policy, Then & Now

This from Agence France Presse (via truthout):

Washington - A sacked CIA official is reportedly suing the agency for allegedly retaliating against him for refusing to falsify his reports on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to support the White House's pre-war position.

Described as a senior CIA official who was sacked in August "for unspecified reasons," the plaintiff's lawsuit appears to be the first public instance of a CIA official charging that he was pressured to produce intelligence to support the US government's pre-war contention that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were a grave threat to US and international security, The Washington Post reported.

"Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said Roy Krieger, the officer's attorney.

Funny: I don't think I read anything in the intelligence reform bill about ceasing to sack people for not toeing the intelligence line.

And in other news, it looks as though two of the soldiers who asked Rumsfeld rather pointed questions yesterday may have been prompted by a reporter (via MSNBC):

NEW YORK - An embedded reporter from the Chattanooga Times Free Press is claiming credit for the blunt questioning yesterday of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by American soldiers in Kuwait.

In an e-mail to an unidentified colleague at the newspaper, Edward Lee Pitts — traveling with a Tennessee National Guard Unit — said that when a scheduling delay permitted him to attend Rumsfeld’s visit with 2,300 troops, he learned that only soldiers could quiz the Secretary. “So,” Pitts writes, “I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have.”

I am starting to come around on the practice of embedded troops. First we had the video footage of the unprotected weapons stash, and now this. It seems that some of the initial novelty of playing soldier has worn off for the press, and they are back to doing their jobs. I heard an interesting NPR interview with Anne Garrels after she returned from a stint in Iraq. She talked extensively about what she could and could not learn while traveling with a group of marines. She noted that her circle of knowledge hardly extended more than 10 feet in any direction (I am paraphrasing) and that she certainly had no "big picture" understanding of what was going on. Knowing that gives a clearer insight into the situation of the troops, but it also emphasizes the limitations on what listeners and readers can learn from embedded reporters.

Meanwhile, if Mr. Pitts e-mail says the truth, then kudos to him for using his embedded status for good. Perhaps the press should find a way to embed reporters in the CIA.

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