My recent email to George Will:
You imply that Wesley Clark plays fast and loose with the truth, and yet you have to engage in deception to make your case. You state:
As Clark crisscrosses the country listening for a clamor for him ("I expect to have my decision made by Sept. 19," when he visits Iowa -- feel the suspense), he compounds the confusion that began when he said on June 15 that on 9/11 "I got a call at my home" saying that when he was to appear on CNN, "You've got to say this is connected" to Iraq. "It came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over." But who exactly called Clark?
What was actually said, (and read closely since you apparently missed it the first time):
GEN. CLARK: Well, several things. First of all, all of us in the community who read intelligence believe that Saddam wanted these capabilities and he had some. We struck very hard in December of ’98, did everything we knew, all of his facilities. I think it was an effective set of strikes. Tony Zinni commanded that, called Operation Desert Fox, and I think that set them back a long ways. But we never believed that that was the end of the problem. I think there was a certain amount of hype in the intelligence, and I think the information that’s come out thus far does indicate that there was a sort of selective reading of the intelligence.
MR. RUSSERT: Hyped by whom?
GEN. CLARK: Well, I...
MR. RUSSERT: The CIA, or the president or vice president? Secretary of Defense, who?
GEN. CLARK: I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein.
MR. RUSSERT: By who? Who did that?
GEN. CLARK: Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, “You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.” I said, “But—I’m willing to say it but what’s your evidence?” And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had—Middle East think tanks and people like this and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn’t talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection.
Your distortion of his statements suit your purpose of leading your readers to think that he initially claimed the call came from White House. Read it again, if you ever read it the first time. The question was "who hyped the intelligence linking Saddam to 9/11?" The answer to that question was the White House, people around the White House and people affiliated with Middle East think tanks, the latter of which the most logical reading of the transcript would suggest the call may have come, if he was claiming it came from any of the three mentioned. He never said the call itself came from the White House. You reversed the order of his statements and left out key phrases to create your own deception.
Do you deny that this administration and people associated with it "hyped" the intelligence regarding a link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam? Do you really deny that the American people somehow became convinced that Saddam was linked to 9/11 and that this adiministration helped create that perception? And yet, even though we have gone to war based on deceptions, the person whose integrity you choose to smear in relation to those mendacities never claimed what you take him to task for doing.
You smugly like to present yourself as having more integrity than most. For that to be true in this case, your only possible excuse was that your research was just plain sloppy. Either that, or you are flat-out lying. Either way, you owe your readers, the papers you write for and Wesley Clark an apology.
I won't hold my breath.
*I'm trusting Al Franken to forgive any trademark infringement that lesser men might assert.