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PROP ACT (PART 2)! Propagandists want you to think that the Post and the Times simply dreamed up those vile, nasty doubts:


DOUBTING WALLACE: Pseudo-con pundits are now naming names in the wake of the Great Patriotic Victory. On the front page of Sunday’s Washington Times, James Lakely played the great game quite well (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/14/03). He quickly slimed General Wesley Clark, a man who might be a Dem—and who might run for office. Lakely knows how the game is played, so he baldly lied about Clark, just the way Tom DeLay did.

But Lakely began where many pseudo-con pundits are currently seeking their scalps. He began by savaging mainstream news orgs—orgs which dared express “doubts” about the coalition war plan in Week 2 of the Recent Great Conquest. Indeed, what was the headline atop Lakely’s piece? “Television, newspapers wrong on war in Iraq; Saw lengthy battle; doubted U.S. plan.” As others on the talk-show right are doing, Lakely began by slamming those orgs who dared to express such vile “doubts.”

He began with recent, pleasing images. “Television screens, newspapers and magazines across the globe this week featured images of a joyously liberated Baghdad,” he said. But guess what? “It was a scenario wholly contrary to a future many of those very same media outlets predicted just days before.” Which media outlets had failed so miserably? The great scribe was eager to tattle:

LAKELY (pgh 5): A front-page story in the Washington Post [sic] on April 1, titled “Rumsfeld’s Design for War Criticized on the Battlefield,” stated that “raw nerves were obvious” as officers compared the war planning of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with that of maligned Vietnam War-era Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara.

(6) The story’s sole quoted source of active battlefield complainers was an anonymous colonel who said Mr. Rumsfeld “wanted to fight this war on the cheap” and “he got what he wanted.”

(7) A story the next day told of unidentified “senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq as well as retired officers at home” who “have questioned some of the Pentagon’s assumptions behind the war plans.”

Plainly, Lakely wants you to think that these stories were lightly sourced. He implies that the Washington Post played Chicken Little, rushing to suggest that Rumsfeld’s plan was in danger on the basis of “unidentified” army men and on the basis of a “sole quoted source.” But as when he slimed General Clark a bit later, Lakely was faking in this passage too. His pleasing tale was Pure Propaganda—like so many tales now being sold on the pseudo-con right.

Let’s start by getting some basic facts straight—that April 1 article appeared in the New York Times (not the Washington Post), written by Timesman Barry Weinraub. And did Weinraub quote only one “active battlefield complainer?” Hardly. In paragraph 3, Weinraub did in fact quote an “anonymous colonel” saying that Rummy had moved “on the cheap.” But in paragraph 4, he named a Large Name. In paragraph 4, he wrote this:

WEINRAUB: The angry remarks from the battlefield opened with comments made last Thursday—and widely publicized Friday—by Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the V Corps commander, who said the military faced the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.
Duh! Weinraub cited “widely publicized” comments by General Wallace, who was the commander of V Corps! But so too with the April 2 story which Lakely slimed—a story which did appear in the Post. That story also cited Wallace’s comments, “first reported by The Washington Post.”

In fact, almost all second-week “doubts” about the war derived from General Wallace’s remarkable statements—remarkable statements which were, in fact, “first reported by the Washington Post.” Many mainstream scribes are now being slimed for raising “doubts” about the war plan. So you can see how fake these con-jobs are, let’s review what General Wallace told the Post on March 27.

The story, written by Rick Atkinson, appeared on the paper’s front page on March 28. Here’s how the story began:

ATKINSON (pgh 1): The Army’s senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said today that overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.
In short, it was Wallace—the senior ground commander in Iraq!—who said that the plan may have foundered. In paragraph 2, the first quote appeared:
ATKINSON (2): “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we’d war-gamed against,” Wallace, commander of V Corps, said during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters here in central Iraq.
Some questions have been raised about that quote (see below); in Sunday’s Post, the paper said it stands by the statement. But this was only one of many quotes attributed to General Wallace this day. So you’ll be able to see why mainstream news orgs reported some “doubts,” here’s a chunk of the Atkinson story:
ATKINSON (3): The corps commander said the duration of the current pause will depend on advice from his logistics specialists. Another senior commander suggested that a 35-day strategic bombing campaign, similar to that waged before the ground attack in the Persian Gulf War of 1991, would not be preposterous…

(5) Wallace described an opponent willing to make suicide attacks against superior U.S. forces while also using threats against fellow Iraqis to generate opposition to the U.S. and British invaders. “I’m appalled by the inhumanity of it all,” he said, noting that intelligence reports indicate those loyal to President Saddam Hussein are giving out weapons and forcing others to fight, sometimes by threatening their families.

(6) “The attacks we’re seeing are bizarre—technical vehicles [pickups] with .50 calibers and every kind of weapon charging tanks and Bradleys,” Wallace added, referring to the M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles used by the Army. “It’s disturbing to think that someone can be that brutal.”

(7) Wallace, a plain-spoken cavalryman whose command is based in Germany and is operating a few miles north of here, gave public voice to what senior officers in Iraq have been saying privately for several days. Asked whether combat developments in the past week increased the likelihood of a much longer war than some planners had forecast, Wallace said, “It’s beginning to look that way.”

In short, it was Wallace who said that the war might take longer than had been expected. Meanwhile, “another senior commander” even suggested that there might be a 35-day delay! No serious news org could ignore such statements from the men in charge in the field. Later, Atkinson quoted another commander who said that the enemy had been misjudged:
ATKINSON: “Everybody’s frame of reference is changing,” Col. Ben Hodges, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 101st, said shortly after arriving here Wednesday night. “The enemy always gets a vote. You fight the enemy and not the plan. I personally underestimated the willingness of the Fedayeen to fight, or maybe overestimated the willingness of the Shiites to rise up.”
“Everybody’s frame of reference is changing.” These were the comments which led mainstream news orgs to say that the war plan was being revised, and had been based on some misjudgments. Infact, it was Wallace and Hodge—and other unnamed commanders—who first had expressed those vile “doubts.”

Again, no real news org could ignore such comments. But it was on the basis of these statements that mainstream journalists began voicing “doubts” about the coalition plan. Indeed, both the articles which Lakely slimes refer back to these seminal statements. Were the April 1 and 2 stories lightly sourced? Sadly, Lakely was up to old tricks. As he would later do with Clark, Lakely was simply deceiving his readers, an old game at the slippery paper which put his trash out on page one.

But on the pseudo-con, talk-show right, propaganda now rules the land. Readers run to the Washington Times because they want to be lied to. And it isn’t just the Washington Times; all over the pseudo-con right, they’re lying their heads off about Wesley Clark—and they want to mislead you about these weak-kneed news orgs which expressed vile “doubts” about the Great War. Tomorrow, THE HOWLER is forced to take a day off. But because you need to know how badly you’re being misled, our incomparable story resumes here on Thursday. Of course, Jack Shafer will surely have expressed many thoughts on these topics by that juncture.

WHERE DOES PROPAGANDA COME FROM: As always, pseudo-con loudmouth Andrew Sullivan has been eager to mislead his readers, so he has made a major deal out of the statement quoted in paragraph 2 (see above). After quoting Wallace as Atkinson quoted him, the New York Times later filed a correction. Wallace had said something slightly different, the Times now said; he had really said that the enemy was “a bit different from the one we’d war-gamed against.” This past Sunday, Times ombudsman Michael Getler addressed the issue; Getler said that the Post stands by the original quote as reported. But as anyone with an ounce of sense can see, Wallace said many things on March 27—and other commanders made similar statements. Whichever way one presents that one quote, the overall story is not affected. But propagandists want you to believe that the Post and the Times just invented a story, so they deep-sixed all the other statements byWallace and asked you to focus on just this one quote. Street hustlers call it “misdirection”—but then, street hustlers are far more honest than the loudmouths who now rule your land.