- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hiding WMDs

“On Wednesday, at our request, the director of national intelligence declassified six ‘key points’ from a National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) report on the recovery of chemical munitions in Iraq,” Rep. Peter Hoekstra and Sen. Rick Santorum said yesterday in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

“The summary was only a small snapshot of the entire report, but even so, it brings new information to the American people. ‘Since 2003,’ the summary states, ‘Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent,’ which remains ‘hazardous and potentially lethal.’ So there are WMDs in Iraq, and they could kill Americans there or all over the world,” said Mr. Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, and Mr. Santorum, Pennsylvania Republican.

“This latest information should not be new. It should have been brought to public attention by officials in the intelligence community. Instead, it had to be pried out of them. …

“On Thursday, [Director of National Intelligence John D.] Negroponte’s office arranged a press briefing by unnamed intelligence officials to downplay the significance of the report, calling it ‘not new news’ even as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was reiterating the obvious importance of the information: ‘What has been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them, and sarin is dangerous. And it’s dangerous to our forces. … They are weapons of mass destruction. They are harmful to human beings. And they have been found. … And they are still being found and discovered.’

The two members of Congress added: “Some officials in the intelligence community withheld the document we requested on WMDs, and somebody is resisting our request to declassify the entire document while briefing journalists in a tendentious manner. We will continue to ask for declassification of this document and the hundreds of thousands of other Saddam-produced documents, and we will also insist on periodic updates on discoveries in Iraq.”

Paying a price

“Every passing week, it becomes more apparent that disgruntled leftists in the intelligence community and antiwar crusaders in the mainstream media, annealed in their disdain for the Bush administration, are undermining our ability to win the War on Terror. Their latest body blow to the war effort is the exposure, principally by the New York Times, of the Treasury Department’s top-secret program to monitor terror funding,” the editors of National Review write at www.nationalreview.com.

President Bush, who said on Monday morning that the exposure ‘does great harm to the United States of America,’ must demand that the New York Times pay a price for its costly, arrogant defiance. The administration should withdraw the newspaper’s White House press credentials because this privilege has been so egregiously abused, and an aggressive investigation should be undertaken to identify and prosecute, at a minimum, the government officials who have leaked national-defense information.”

The magazine added: “While prosecution of the press for publishing information helpful to the enemy in wartime would be controversial, pursuit of the government officials who leak it is not. At the very least, members of the media who report such information must be made to understand that the government will no longer regard them as immune from questioning when it investigates the leakers. They should be compelled to reveal their sources, on pain of contempt.”

Arrogant posturing’

“[New York Times Executive Editor] Bill Keller isn’t very bright, or else he thinks you aren’t,” Glenn Reynolds writes at www.instapundit.com.

“How else to explain this passage in his apologia for the Times’ publication of classified information about the terrorist financial surveillance program: ‘Some of the incoming mail quotes the angry words of conservative bloggers and TV or radio pundits who say that drawing attention to the government’s anti-terror measures is unpatriotic and dangerous. (I could ask, if that’s the case, why they are drawing so much attention to the story themselves by yelling about it on the airwaves and the Internet.)’

“I realize that the Times’ circulation is falling at an alarming rate, but it hasn’t yet reached such a pass that its stories are only noticed when Rush Limbaugh mentions them,” Mr. Reynolds said.

“A deeper error is Keller’s characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: ‘It’s an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. … The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly.’

“The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn’t give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the ‘freedom of the press’ the Framers described was also called ‘freedom in the use of the press.’ It’s the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.

“Characterizing the freedom this way, of course, makes much of Keller’s piece look like, well, just what it is — arrogant and self-justificatory posturing.”

The Virginian

Former Rep. Tom DeLay testified yesterday that he lives and votes in Virginia, bolstering the Republican Party’s claim that he is ineligible to appear on the November ballot in Texas.

Mr. DeLay resigned from Congress and decided against re-election earlier this year, after the Texas primary, while under indictment on campaign-finance charges.

Republican leaders want to select another Republican to replace Mr. DeLay on the ballot. They say they are permitted to do so under state election law, which permits parties to replace primary winners who later become ineligible. Only Texas residents may appear on Texas ballots.

But the Democrats want to block any other Republican from being listed on the ballot for the suburban Houston district, where former Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson is running.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has not ruled on the dispute, the Associated Press reports.

On the road

Lynn Swann, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, plans to spend the Fourth of July holiday on a bus tour of what his spokesman calls “the real Pennsylvania.”

In Harrisburg on Thursday, Mr. Swann will board a converted motor coach — 39 feet long, with a bathroom and office, and shrink-wrapped in a giant campaign ad — to begin a nine-day road trip that represents his first extended foray into retail campaigning.

By the time he returns home to Pittsburgh, Mr. Swann expects to have mingled with Pennsylvanians in dozens of settings — from greeting New York commuters before dawn at a park-and-ride lot in Delaware Water Gap to attending services at black churches in Philadelphia.

A Quinnipiac University poll showed Democratic Gov. Edward G. Rendell leading Mr. Swann 55 percent to 31 percent.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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