The the press has done a lousy job of covering the release of the 9/11 Commission’s documents.
The must-read commentary on this subject comes from Joel Mowbray, writing in the New York Post, and the editorial page editors of the Wall Street Journal. Both believe that the press is engaging in some election year spinning.
“The lead,” writes Mowbray, “of the [New York] Times’ Page One story reads [on the commission reports] like a John Kerry press release: ’The staff of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks sharply contradicted one of President Bush’s central justifications for the Iraq war, reporting on Wednesday that there did not appear to have been a ’collaborative relationship’ between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.’”
Those who’ve read the report with an unbiased eye, according to Mowbray, come away with a different conclusion. “The report doesn’t close the book on connections between Iraq and al Qaeda.” Jonathan Stull, spokesman for the commission, told Mowbray.
“We’ll say this,” write the editors of the Wall Street Journal, “on behalf of the latest staff reports from the 9/11 Commission: They are far more interesting than the media coverage suggests. Americans who go online to read the reports will actually learn a few things.”
The report, according to the WSJ, sheds new light on al Qaeda’s relationship with another terrorist group, Hezbollah and on al Qaeda’s probable involvement in the 1996 Khobar Towers attack. There is new information on al Qaeda’s ambitious anthrax program.
“Yet nearly all of the media coverage has focused on what the 9/11 panel claims it didn’t find–namely, smoking-gun proof that al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were working together. The country has traveled a long way psychologically from the trauma of September 11 if we are now focusing on the threats that allegedly don’t exist instead of those that certainly do.”
Mowbray concurs: “Saddam’s possible role in 9/11 had little to do with the case for war in Iraq. The point there was to prevent another 9/11.”
Speaking of which, buried in yesterday’s WaPo, an FBI agent noted that the U.S. had “probably” prevented several aviation attacks by al Qaeda since 9/11. Looks like Homeland Security is doing something.