Friday, November 23, 2012

No bias, not here!

The Washington Post coyly accuses a cabal of house republicans of racism:
Another is blatant disregard of established facts. Drawn up by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), the letter alleges that “Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public” about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But as congressional testimony has established, Ms. Rice’s comments on several Sunday television talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community. She was acting as an administration spokeswoman; there was nothing either incompetent or deliberately misleading about the way she presented the information she was given.
 Hmm. So, "if it's from the Intelligence Community, it's got to be good!" (apologies to Campbell's Soup). I seem to recall a situation in the recent past where that supposition was tested and found wanting.
The nine-member panel, officially called the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, blamed intelligence agencies for overselling their knowledge and not disclosing conflicting information to policymakers....
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) was even sharper. "The president's decision to go to war in Iraq was also dead wrong," she said, adding, "The investigation will not be complete unless we know how the Bush administration may have used or misused intelligence to pursue its own agenda."
In fact, the commission concluded that policymakers should in the future challenge analysts harder to justify their conclusions, even at the risk of being accused of politicizing intelligence. "It's very important for policymakers to question and push hard on the intelligence community to explore and to fill gaps," Silberman said.
But this case was clearly different. It was really a slam dunk, not just something we thought was a slam dunk:
Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice’s explanation that “this began as a spontaneous . . . response to what transpired in Cairo.”
So it was a spontaneous combined small-arms fire/indirect mortar fire onto preplanned coordinates/10+ hour sustained attack on the Anniversary of 9/11. Nothing quite like youtube to inspire me to go out and dig a mortar pit.

So, the lesson to unlearn is that policymakers either must or should not question the analysis of the intelligence community, depending on what seems to be the motivations of the questioners.
Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.
"... we can't know their hearts (but we're sure they're racists -- that's why they have an R after their name)." Luckily, it's an editorial, so we don't have to presume that the WaPo editors would take care not to propagate any falsehoods.

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