CNN and the RNC ladle the Drudge sludge

The palpable falsehood that Wesley Clark supported going to war with Iraq at the time the use-of-force resolution was passed is now being repeated both by the Chair of the RNC and by Lou Dobbs of CNN. Dana Hull and Drew Brown of Knight-Ridder report the charge and its falsity as part of a single story, which is the right way to do it.

I hope the rest of the national media will be on this story. Lying by the chair of the RNC isn’t exactly man-bites-dog, but it’s worth reporting nonetheless.

As for Dobbs, this link will send an email to him, while this link will send one to his boss, Jim Walton, President of CNN.

Polite and forceful is better than rude. But CNN needs to know they can’t get away with this sort of nonsense.

[Full documentation and links in this earlier post.]

Update: Tom Maguire says that the transcript of Gillespie’s speech shows that he was less mendacious than Drudge. I think it shows merely that Gillespie is a more skilled deceiver. Read for yourself and judge, if you have the patience.

I don’t understand why Tom thinks an inquiry into what the Administration said about WMDs what what it actually knew would be pointless, or why he thinks Clark’s position implies that it would be pointless. Clark said that an invasion would be justified to elminate the WMD threat, if there were no other way to get the job done.

But that relied on a belief that Iraq had an active WMD program. It now turns out that Iraq didn’t have an active WMD program. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that there should be an inquiry into how that misinformation got to the public, what additional misinformation might have gotten to the Congress in the form of classified briefings, and how it compared with what the folks conveying that misinformation actually knew. Maybe all that happened was a big failure of intelligence-gathering and interpretation; maybe there was an additional element of sales effort. Why not find out?

If the Congress had been told in October, “There is no credible evidence that Iraq has significant weapons of mass destruction or WMD acquisition programs, and no credible evidence it had any significant link to the events of 9/11, but we’re asking for authorization to invade to bring about regime change on humanitarian grounds and for long-term geopolitical reasons,” the use-of-force resolution would have received fewer votes than it actually got. If in fact the Administration knew more of the facts than it revealed, then it’s not false to say that we were lied into war.

That doesn’t imply that going to war was, on balance, a bad idea. Certainly the neocons and the warbloggers believe that kicking out SH was justified for exactly those reasons, and that’s not an unreasonable belief on its face. But lying to Congress is a bad thing to do — it can even be criminal — even if the resulting policy is a good policy.

As to Gillespie, he said, in effect, that Clark couldn’t legitimately demand an investigation of why we went to war because he knew perfectly well, having said so himself. But of course what Clark said at the time was based on the intelligence provided at the time. There’s no contradiction in now asking how much of that intelligence was manufactured to support an already chosen policy. So when Gillespie accuses Clark of inconsistency he is, in fact, telling an untruth.

Tom says that I was wrong to rely on press accounts rather than finding the transcript of the Gillespie testimony before calling Gillespie a liar. He’s right. I should have done the search. But having done so, I don’t find it necessary to retract and apologize, as I would if the transcript contradicted the news story. It doesn’t.

Second update Josh Marshall catches the Wall Street Journal fibbing about the testimony.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com