Mostly, conservative bloggers are seizing on this paragraph:
Intelligence analysts involved in high-level discussions about the trailers noted that the technical team was among several groups that analyzed the suspected mobile labs throughout the spring and summer of 2003. Two teams of military experts who viewed the trailers soon after their discovery concluded that the facilities were weapons labs, a finding that strongly influenced views of intelligence officials in Washington, the analysts said. “It was hotly debated, and there were experts making arguments on both sides,” said one former senior official who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.But as Maha points out: “No cigar, righties. The Administration didn’t say, we think these trailers might be mobile labs. It said they were, unequivocally. And the evidence that they weren’t was then suppressed. That was dishonest. And it’s part of the now-familiar pattern — the Bushies cherry-picked intelligence, believing what they wanted to believe, discarding anything that didn’t support their conclusions.” Indeed. So moving on to the round-up…
The aforementioned most popular response is exhibited by Powerline, Confederate Yankee, The Political Pitbull, In the Bullpen, et al, all of whom blame the WaPo for the placement of the above-referenced paragraph, because it’s not part of the lede. In the Bullpen:
One problem with many media outlets in today’s politically biased journalistic world is that there are maliciously written articles with inaccurate ledes and the actual juice of the reports lay well within the whole. Anyone who has ever studied journalism at even the elementary levels knows that most readers stop reading an article after the first few paragraphs. Of course that assumes in the age of the Internet readers actually click to the full story and read more than the headline and the lede paragraph or teaser attributed on a media outlet’s web site.A quick etymology lesson. Newspapers are papers that contain news. News is something that is new. Everyone with me? Okay, it’s the Bush administration’s choice to ignore contradictory evidence and withhold its existence from us, which is, in fact, new. That they had experts who were feeding them what they wanted to hear is, in fact, not new. Ergo, that allegedly damning information is neither news not the “actual juice of the report.” Nice try, though.
The Corner relies on the old sniff-and-dismiss technique:
It's going to take some time to mull over the big WashPost scoop today by Joby Warrick claiming the Bush administration ignored warnings from experts that trailers in Iraq were not mobile bio-weapons labs -- the story is a classic trust-us-with-anonymous-insiders story. (Of course, ABC White House reporter Martha Raddatz was already dancing a happy anti-Bush dance on ABC this morning.)The temerity of the WaPo for pointing out that a cause had an effect! My god, what is the world coming to? Unconditionally supporting the lying scumbags whose deceit resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 soldiers is an interesting take on supporting the troops, btw.
But one indication of how the Post wants to pack a partisan wallop on this is right there for Post readers at the bottom of A-12, which is entirely devoted to the Warrick story: The latest update on "Iraq War Deaths," with "2,360 Fatalities" in bold, which, when put on the same page, whispers: "Bush lied, people died."
And my personal favorite, Outside the Beltway, takes a look and feels a bit worried, but reassures:
Now, there is some wiggle room here for the president. That “intelligence officials possessed” information does not mean that the president did. That the report was “transmitted . . . to Washington” does not mean that they reached the White House. Especially not in two days. Then again, they clearly knew within some reasonable span of time, which means they were being dishonest if the claims were “repeated by top administration officials for months afterward.”Wiggle room?! Ha. Intended or not, that reeks of “There is an opportunity for the president to lie yet again.” Smashing.
But, in fairness, Outside the Beltway also provides the most obvious hint of a conscience, too, even after repeating the “position of that paragraph is crap” meme.
All that said, however, it obviously became clear within a few weeks that there was doubt as to the nature of those trailers. To keep referring to them in public as if they were slam dunk evidence of Iraqi WMD is disengenuous [sic] at best…Perhaps not so coincidentally, the author happens to have served in the military. Maybe he’s a little less sanguine about administrations who send soldiers to war based on lies than the rest of the Righty chickenhawk brigade.
[L]eaders in democratic societies have an obligation to be honest when addressing their citizenry. It certainly appears that that obligation was not met here.