Sunday, June 26, 2005

Editorial: Mainstream Press Do Your Homework on the pre-invasion bombings

It's so depressing at The New York Timid. We were going to hand out grades re: coverage of the Downing Street Memo this week. Instead we had to schedule parent-teacher conferences. Mrs. Keller swears she can get little Billy Keller to "buckle down and apply himself." We wait to be persuaded.

Via BuzzFlash, we do however find Tim Harper's "Is this Bush's 'smoking gun'? War opponents seek U.S. inquiry into U.K. memos Documents show" (Toronto Star):

Writing in the Los Angeles Times this week, Smith argued that the real news in the July 23 memo was that the United States was engaged in an illegal air war against Iraq in the summer of 2002.
Smith pointed to the part of the memo quoting Geoffrey Hoon, Britain's defence secretary at the time, saying the U.S. had already begun "spikes of activity" over Baghdad, long before Washington argued its case before the United Nations.
The United States had begun intensified aerial bombing of Baghdad in May 2002, continuing through August of that year, in a bid to trigger a retaliation that would justify a full-out invasion.
When that did not happen, the U.S. responded by ratcheting up the bombing in September 2002, continuing until the invasion formally began on March 19, 2003.
Based on the memos he obtained, Smith argued that Bush and Blair really began an air war six weeks before the U.S. Congress approved military action.

It's a good point, a strong one. And we say that not only because we've harped on it here as has C.I. over at The Common Ills. Last Sunday, when we wrote our editorial "Editorial: 'Illegal' bombing raids? When will the domestic press note this?" we were thinking (wrongly) that it was now time for The New York Timid to seriously begin addressing the topic.

The bombings raise serious questions that go to the issue of was intelligence "fixed." To quote from that editorial:

As C.I. wrote, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim "Saddam has WMDs! We're all at risk!" and increase the bombings. If you really believe the WMD lie (we all know it was a lie now, right?) you don't attempt to start a war before you're ready. You don't put your country at risk. If you really believe there's a risk, to invite an attack when you're unprepared, a WMD attack, may border on derelicition of duty for the one who wanted the whole nation (military and civilian) to call him "commander-in-chief." (Note to Diane Sawyer, unless you enlisted, he wasn't YOUR commander-in-chief, nor was he the Dixie Chicks' "commnader-in-chief.")

The bombings are not a side issue, that are part and package of the big picture. But the attention has focused elsewhere instead as people debated. Was intelligence fixed? The debate needs to factor in the increased bombings.

It's time the press dealt with that. All the parents (even little Judy Millers' parents) seemed nice, concerned and genuine and their promises that they would see it to that their children applied themselves. We really want to believe that's possible because this issue goes to the heart of our democracy. If we can't discuss this openly and honestly, one wonders why the First Amendment ever carried any weight to begin with?

It's past time to include the pre-invasion bombings into the dialogue. Mainstream press, do your homework or don't bother showing up for class.

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