Monday, January 17, 2005

Riddle me this

While I was waiting for a fuller text of Pentagon spokesmodel Lawrence DiRita’s “rebuttal” of Sy Hersh’s article to show up somewhere on the web (I still haven’t found it), Eli at LeftI has written exactly what I planned to write, which is that DiRita’s talk about rumor, innuendo, statements never made, etc. failed to deny a single specific in the Hersh piece or name a single one of the alleged factual errors. You can’t accuse DiRita of making factual errors, because his non-denial denial was completely fact-free. But this isn’t about facts, per se. DiRita says that these unspecified errors with which the article is “riddled” (riddled is the key word in denigration this week; Dan Bartlett used it yesterday) mean that “the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed.” It’s not really about facts, it’s about the media’s, at least the non-compliant media like Hersh’s, credibility.

The annoying thing is that I have much the same problem with the Hersh article: he didn’t provide enough backing evidence for me to judge the accuracy of his charges, so I’m left relying on his credibility, although that credibility is quite high with me, given his track record.

As a long-time observer of CIA dirty tricks, Hersh is especially worried that the shift of covert operations to the Pentagon will remove what little Congressional oversight was set up in the 1970s. The incursions into Iran are being defined not as intelligence ops but as “preparing the battlefield,” and as such immune from scrutiny.

Also, and I can’t believe even the Bushies are being this stupid again, they evidently believe that a successful operation against an Iranian nuclear facility would bring about an uprising against the government because it would destroy the mullahs’ “aura of invincibility.” Which come to think of it is roughly what the right is trying to do with the media: first make a surgical strike on Dan Rather, then Rather-bate other journalists, so you can dismiss Seymour Hersh’s “credibility” without having to address his accusations.

(Update: here’s the DiRita “rebuttal,” which is actually snider than I’d imagined. My favorite phrase is the dismissal of agreements between Douglas Feith and Israel as “the soft bigotry of some conspiracy theorists.”)

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