The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Has Dana Priest gone over to the Dark Side?

Regular readers will know her as the Pin-up of the Blog. She is cute and (in her webchats) wryly amusing. As well as producing good stuff. I am mildly invested.

So, when I read over at Brad DeLong that she's being accused (by Juan Cole) of whitewashing...Doug Feith, I'm naturally transported to Status Say it ain't so, Joe.

The rebuttal doesn't exactly start here - I've just skimmed Priest's article (March 13). But it will be no surprise to those who have read recent stuff on the arcana of journalism here to learn that, so far as I can tell, the piece is in code.

Just one or two initial points:

First, I there is a perhaps telling elision in DeLong's quote of Cole: Cole mentions Karen Kwiatkowski. I suspect DeLong felt a KK namecheck would not come to the aid of the party.

Second, note how the 2,000 word piece is strikingly not constructed using the inverted pyramid. It's very magazine, not news.

Third, the piece ran on A11 - not a memo to the White House, then. I suspect it was the main piece (top left) on the page - surrounded by what, I wonder?

Fourth, supposedly the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, forerunner of the Office of Special Plans,
never grew larger than two people.

Yet it was apparently tasked to (Priest quoting a January 2002 document sent to DIA)
study al Qaeda worldwide suppliers, chokepoints, vulnerabilities and recommend strategies for rendering terrorist networks ineffective

Two guys.

The words Mickey Mouse operation (or something close) are, I suspect, meant to flash across the consciousness. It's the apparent theme of the piece.

I need to read it some more. Seeing is assuredly not believing...

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