Tuesday, March 14, 2006



This is truly despicable. Yesterday in his speech at George Washington University, President Bush offered the latest chapter in the GOP's ongoing blame-the-press-for-Iraq narrative. Speaking of something called the Joint IED Neutralizer, which is meant to counter roadside bombs, Bush said this:
Earlier this year, a newspaper published details of a new anti-IED technology that was being developed. Within five days of the publication -- using details from that article -- the enemy had posted instructions for defeating this new technology on the Internet. We cannot let the enemy know how we're working to defeat him.
Bush didn't name the newspaper. But his aides subsequently leaked confirmation to the press that he was talking about the Los Angeles Times. And guess what: It turns out that Bush left out a small detail about the offending article in question. Turns out it was about the fact that some military officials were angry that this potentially life saving technology still hasn't been shipped to Iraq, ten months after Pentagon officials recommended investing in research and sending prototypes to Iraq for testing. Says the piece:
10 months later -- and after a prototype destroyed about 90% of the IEDs laid in its path during a battery of tests -- not a single JIN has been shipped to Iraq.

To many in the military, the delay in deploying the vehicles, which resemble souped-up, armor-plated golf carts, is a case study in the Pentagon's inability to bypass cumbersome peacetime procedures to meet the urgent demands of troops in the field. More than half of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq have been caused by roadside bombs, and the number of such attacks nearly doubled last year compared with 2004.

As for Bush's charge that the LA Times tipped off terrorists, a quick Google search shows that extensive information about the technology was all over the Internet well before the piece was published -- including at least one news report six months earlier that provided many of the same technological details the Times did. What's more, in its story today about Bush's broadside, the LA Times said:
The Times spoke to several Defense Department officials before the article appeared. None expressed concern that publication could endanger U.S. troops...Before Bush mentioned the report Monday, no U.S. officials had contacted The Times to raise those concerns.
So is Bush's allegation even true to begin with? We'll never know, unless perhaps the White House releases the URLs of the sites where terrorists allegedly traded on the Times's info.

Right now, here's what we do know: the White House smeared a major American newspaper as anti-troops -- because they published an article saying that some in the military were upset over delays in shipping new technology to Iraq that could combat the roadside bombs that kill and maim American soldiers every day. So who's really anti-troops here, again?

-- Greg Sargent

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