NEWS, OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: The secret that can’t be told

The right confronts Rice over North Korea policy

A fight has erupted between conservatives on national security and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the Bush administration’s pursuit of diplomacy with North Korea in the face of intelligence that North Korea might have helped Syria begin construction on a nuclear reactor.

The debate moved to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, when Ms. Rice had a tense private meeting with Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Just days earlier, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen was the co-author of an opinion article questioning the White House approach, which offers incentives to North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program.

That article also criticized the Bush administration for what it called the “veil of secrecy” surrounding intelligence that led to an Israeli airstrike in Syria last month on the suspected reactor site, and for the fact that only a handful of lawmakers have been briefed on the subject. [complete article]

What happened in Syria?

We are concerned that, although the Bush administration refuses to discuss the Israeli airstrike with the American people or with the majority of Congress, it has not hesitated to give information on background to the press to shape this story to its liking. New York Times writer David Sanger authored and coauthored articles on Oct. 14 and 15 that appeared to reflect extensive input from senior policy makers. Washington Post writer Glenn Kessler coauthored an article on Sept. 21 that also cited inside information from the administration. We believe this is unacceptable. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — And where exactly in the contract of employment for journalists at the New York Times and the Washington Post does it say that reporters are meant to help the White House shape a story to its liking? Is that under the “business as usual” clause?

Hoekstra and Ros-Lehtinen do of course have their own ax to grind here, but if two Republican members of the secret circle say that the secret should be let out, what are we waiting for? And while these members of Congress are pressing the White House, why not the Israeli government too? It was an Israeli air strike after all.

And then there’re a few more details about the evidence. Why is the building next to the Euphrates being referred to as a “pumping station” rather than as “a building that might be a pumping station”? The photo in the Times doesn’t appear to show evidence of pipelines running between the purported pumping station and the building purported to house a future reactor. Moreover, no one spells out the necessity of having a water pumping station nearby what is claimed to be a gas-cooled reactor. But then again, all of these are questions that should be addressed by the IAEA and not half-assed journalists, unaccountable government officials, uninformed politicians, and blogging dilettantes.

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