- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

Nobles: Kristin, Mary and Karen, a trio of the best instructors that the FBI has had for putting away child pornographers.

Kristin, Mary and Karen don’t have college degrees. They haven’t even earned high school diplomas. But they do have an uncanny ability to talk like the children that pedophiles prey on after finding them on Internet chatrooms.

That’s probably because Kristin, Mary and Karen are eighth-graders — they just graduated from a Howard Country middle school. But between classes (all were on the honor roll), this intrepid triplicate traversed the country, teaching FBI agents about everything from teen clothing trends to Justin Timberlake. According to The Washington Post, the girls assigned readings from Teen People and even gave quizzes, the first of which all the agents bombed. (Just for the record, Justin Timberlake does not play keyboard for the Rolling Stones.)

Learning the truth (ask an eighth-grader) made a major difference for the FBI agents, who had to pass themselves off as teen-agers in order to find purveyors of child porn and even worse under Operation Innocent Images. Their expertise became an integral part of the operation, so much so that each was given a letter of commendation signed by FBI Director Robert Mueller. And despite their aptitude as instant messengers, most of the girls’ classmates had no idea that they were also instructors for the FBI.

For their untiring efforts to teach middle-age adults that Peter, Paul and Mary are no longer cool, Kristin, Mary and Karen are the nobles of the week.

Knaves: The London Guardian, for a pernicious distortion of a principled U.S. policy-maker.

In a June 4 story headlined “Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil,” the paper quoted Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz as saying in response to a question about why Iraq was dealt with differently than North Korea, “Let’s look at it simply, the most important difference between North Korean and Iraqis that economically, we justly had no choice in Iraq. The country swims in a sea of oil.” The Guardian reportedly called it confirmation of the “worst fears” of those who had opposed the war.

However, Mr. Wolfowitz actually said, “The primarily [sic] difference — to put it a little too simply — between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats in a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage … The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances, which are very different.” (The full transcript has been posted by the Pentagon at www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/ under the heading “05/31/2003: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Q&A; following IISS Asia Security Conference.”)

While there’s little new about bias in British papers, Guardian editors should have thought to double-check the statement in this post-Jayson Blair era, especially since this is the second time in little over a week in which Mr. Wolfowitz was completely misquoted.

The first was in Vanity Fair magazine. In an interview with Contributing Editor Sam Tanenhaus, Mr. Wolfowitz supposedly admitted, “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Yet the quote was totally distorted, as the transcript (also available at www.defenselink.mil) shows. Mr. Wolfowitz told Mr. Tanenhaus that there were three primary concerns in Iraq — weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorism and the criminal treatment of Iraqis.

Those who trumpeted the Vanity Fair quote had to believe that a canny operator like Mr. Wolfowitz would falter so far as to admit what would seem to be a highly classified state secret to a celebrity gossip magazine. The editors at the Guardian were apparently grasping for straws to confirm their worst fears, since the quote they printed was at variance with everything the Bush administration has said about Iraq since it took power.

Moreover, as Mr. Wolfowitz and many others have repeatedly pointed out, U.S. policy-makers could have probably gotten all the Iraqi oil they wanted had they been willing to overlook humanitarian and security concerns. Instead, they hazarded a far more costly course.

To its credit, the Guardian pulled the story from the Internet and issued a correction. However, even that is unlikely to convince either its editors or those who insist on viewing the administration through oily lenses, despite the black and white evidence in the transcripts that should be in front of them.

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