By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Your own lying eyes

I’m going to break one of my rules for blogging by engaging in a little mind-reading. That’s because it seems fairly obvious that the folks at the Washington Post have decided they don’t want to engage in a battle with the McCain-Palin campaign over Sarah Palin’s crystal-clear, public statement linking the war in Iraq to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

How else can we possibly explain Post ombudsman Deborah Howell’s column accepting the line that Palin was actually referring to a terrorist group known as Al Qaeda in Iraq? How else can we understand reporter Anne Kornblut’s contention that there was more than one interpretation that could be given to Palin’s remarks? Why else would the Post run a “clarification” to Kornblut’s article that might as well have been headed “obfuscation”?

By all means, watch the video above, but here’s the key sentence from Palin’s talk to Iraq-bound Alaskan soldiers, including her son Track: “You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans. You’ll be there because America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before Sept. 11, 2001.”

Is this difficult? There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001. Al Qaeda in Iraq did not plan and carry out the attacks. Every one of the terrorists was either Saudi or Egyptian. I mean, come on. Palin’s words were plainly spoken. There is no alternative interpretation.

The U.S. military, after extensive study, found there were no ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The military also believes that Al Qaeda in Iraq is merely a homegrown, Iraqi insurgent movement.

Why is the Washington Post acting as enablers for the McCain-Palin campaign’s transparent attempt to explain away Palin’s ludicrous statement?

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  1. O-FISH-L

    “You’ll be there [Iraq] to defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”—Aren’t 4161 US troops killed in Iraq “thousands of Americans?” Did they kill themselves Dan, or did the enemy plan, carry out and rejoice at their deaths? The WaPo has issued a rare clarification yet you wish they hadn’t. The WaPo is moving on from their error, yet you can’t. Sheesh.Obviously hoping that few will actually play the video, you omit some of these remarks Palin followed with, “On your mission Arctic wolves, you’ll also be following the path of the finest men and women a free country can ever produce. The troops who served and struggled through years of setbacks have now brought victory within sight.” The speech is undeniably about the war on terror being waged in Iraq. As for Palin’s remarks about September 11, 2001 –she was speaking on the seventh anniversary– she accurately notes that fateful day as the day we began to take terrorism seriously. History will determine whether Iraq, with 16 repeated violations of UN Security Council Resolutions was the right battleground, but to scoff at that country being mentioned in a speech being delivered to troops headed there, on the anniversary of 9/11, is childish. Grow up Dan. The WaPo has.

  2. Ani

    Here’s my reaction: Palin is scary. The combination of “You’ll be there to defend …” statement with her next sentence about not being able to go back to our pre- 9/11 attitudes makes it pretty clear to me that Palin thinks the war in Iraq is against the people responsible for flying jets into the World Trade Center towers. My interpretation is that Palin is at the very least badly informed. And my armchair guess is that people like Palin want to believe that kind of thing because it accords with their (simplistic) worldview.I would have liked to have been able to think the process of VP selection would weed out at least the badly informed part. The voting process will have to weed out unhelpful worldview part, I guess. And I hope the media will at least give the voting public the information we need to see the facts.

  3. Robin Edgar

    “And my armchair guess is that people like Palin want to believe that kind of thing because it accords with their (simplistic) worldview.”Quite regrettably people *will* believe what they *want* to believe. . .

  4. Bill H.

    Fish, Palin is a fringe dwelling right winger, attractive to voters who see the world–and our country–through an us-against-them, circle the wagons prism. No gray areas for her or them. All well and good, but why is that the people who picked Palin don’t defend her on that basis instead of trying to make her into a less dogmatic, more moderate figure? Her very appeal is her simplistic approach to complex questions. Why not just state that flat out and debate it on its merits?

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Oh, I am so devious, presenting the video in the certain knowledge that no one will actually watch it. Please.Actually, her next sentence is even more devastating to your claim: “You’ll be there because America can never go back to that false sense of security that came before Sept. 11, 2001.”

  6. mike_b1

    Uh, Fish, if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, they wouldn’t have killed thousands of Americans.

  7. Mike F

    I certainly can believe that Palin is dumb enough to still believe that Saddam had something to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001 (and I’m really tired of people who don’t believe in evolution being referred to as anything but dummies.) That said, there are opposition forces in Iraq now that identify themselves as Al Qaeda and they are attacking innocent people. Is there anything but name connecting Al Qaeda in Iraq to those who planned and carried out the attacks of September 11th? I would say no, but I can see some semantic wiggle room in her statements. However, that’s not to say an honest news person should be defending her remarks.

  8. tsg

    We might get some clarification on what Sarah Palin meant if she would submit to interviews, but she won’t.And given that we invaded Iraq and not the other way around, I don’t think you can assume that all the thousands of American military deaths were “planned” by the Iraqis, never mind “rejoiced in.”

  9. Ani

    Dan, I’m glad you also noticed that the sentence that follows Palin’s “You’ll be there to defend the innocent from the enemies …” sentence is pretty damning to attempts to air brush her mistake.So, who is going to pressure the McCain campaign into making available Palin more available to the press so we can see how she does under such exposure (I’m thinking of John Silber’s shelflife expiring during his interview with Natalie Jacobsen)? “If Palin can’t stand up to the American press, how can we expect her to stand up to Putin?” or has that already been tried?

  10. O-FISH-L

    Yup Dan. Totally devastating. Palin mentioned the September 11th attacks on, um, the anniversary of September 11th. How dare she.To Bill H., Palin needs no defense. It’s Dan Kennedy, suffering from Level 3 (almost 4) PDS, who needs the help.

  11. Matthew

    I’m going to have to disagree with o-fish-l. Dan is definitely at Level 4 PDS, going on 5.Dan, you’d have a point if Saddam was still in charge in Iraq. But he hasn’t been for years.We haven’t been fighting Saddam these past few years, we’ve been fighting al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists.Read the newspaper (even the liberal ones — but I repeat myself) and you might’ve heard of the guys we’re fighting. The NYT calls them Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Which is roughly the same as Al Qaeda in Iraq.

  12. Dot Lane

    Spin it all you want o-f-l and Matthew. Fact of the matter is Sarah Palin isn’t polished enough to make her point clear without having to have a spokesperson intervene and interpret her remarks for her. Without her teleprompter or ventriloquist speechwriters, she’s lost. Most sentient beings recognize that when you’re talking about “the death of thousands of Americans” on September 11th, you’re referring to those who died in the terrorist attacks on that day. Either Palin is talking about the US troops killed in Iraq after September 11th and thinking those who died on September 11th are unworthy of mention on September 11th, or she’s thinking the opposite, because it wasn’t the same enemies planning out and carrying out those attacks. The fact that her next sentence refers to not being able to go back to a pre-9/11 mindset suggests she’s referring to the attacks on 9/11. You really don’t have to make things so difficult for yourselves: you could just admit the obvious that Palin misspoke.

  13. Peter Porcupine

    “Without her teleprompter or ventriloquist speechwriters, she’s lost.”Yet another thing in common with Obama!

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