Along the Tracks

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Mainstream media doing its job(!)

If I had a webcam - a frightening thought for Tracks visitors, I admit - the look on my face would have been stone-cold stunned as I read this story in the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune, a second-tier member of the mainstream media, actually sat down and studied the case for war against Iraq. In their words:

We set out to assess the Bush administration's arguments for war in Iraq. We have weighed each of those nine arguments against the findings of subsequent official investigations by the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee and others.

What, pray tell, did the Tribune find? The summary:

After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege. Example: The accusation that Bush lied about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs overlooks years of global intelligence warnings that, by February 2003, had convinced even French President Jacques Chirac of "the probable possession of weapons of mass destruction by an uncontrollable country, Iraq." We also know that, as early as 1997, U.S. intel agencies began repeatedly warning the Clinton White House that Iraq, with fissile material from a foreign source, could have a crude nuclear bomb within a year.

The Tribune's breakdown of the case for war into nine arguments is fair and detailed. While I'd differ on some of the Tribune's conclusions - particularly that Saddam's ties to terrorism and in particular al Qaeda were "exaggerated" due to the administration's focus on some of the most threatening intelligence - those few potshots cannot take down the larger conclusion the paper (somewhat grudgingly) admits: The Bush administration did not "lie" us into war.

Finally, the reader is provided a window into the thinking process of mainstream media editors where Iraq is concerned. The verdict to the Tribune's investigation of the "biological and chemical weapons" argument claims, "In putting so much emphasis on illicit weaponry, the White House advanced its most provocative, least verifiable case for war when others would have sufficed."

Would others have sufficed? Certainly not with the United Nations, where even the weapons stockpile argument did not ultimately suffice with France and Russia. To drop the WMD as a central point in the case for war would have meant eschewing the UN route entirely. That, in turn, would have made the Congressional use of force resolution much more difficult to obtain - perhaps impossible. Which, of course, would have either meant no war at all and a reinvigorated Saddam or a truly unilateral war initiated without any Congressional authorization.

The president's choices were limited as he looked at the danger posed by Saddam. While I would have advised some other directions in preparation for the conflict, ultimately Bush did the best he could to protect the American people.

That's why he was elected.

HAT TIP: Instapundit.

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