Tuesday, January 13, 2004

O'Neill: Nothing New

So, in a more-ridiculous-than-usual stampede to get into print, all media outlets have been publishing the story of Paul O'Neill and his new book. The most important item the book "reports"?
O'Neill, who was fired by Bush in December 2002, is quoted in the book as saying the president was focused on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq from the start of his administration.
But, is this news? Demonstrably not.

A State Department report outlining the history of U.S. policy toward Iraq states that regime change was the policy since May of 1991:
About two months after the failure of the Shiite uprising, President George H.W. Bush forwarded to Congress an intelligence finding stating that the United States would undertake efforts to promote a military coup against Saddam Hussein
Regime change was the policy of B.J.Clinton as well, and regime change was enshrined in law since November 1998 in the Iraq Liberation Act (ILA, H.R. 4655, P.L. 105-338) signed into law by B.J. October 31, 1998.

How can it be news that O'Neill has written that Bush was following the law, and pursuing a decade old policy? Sour grapes from a disgruntled former employee is to be expected. The news media covering these ruminations of an incompetent as if they are news, when they are demonstrably NOT news, should not be expected.

As a supporter of Bush's reelection, I should be happy about this. After all, if these zealots can come up with nothing better than this, Bush is looking pretty good. But I am not happy, because this episode shows that the media are zealously using all of the power at their command to unseat the president, and that can not possibly be a good thing.

(By the way, if you would rather have that State Department report in a .pdf file, it is here. The link above is to an HTML version from Google, with the search terms highlighted.)