None of us (including me, probably) give credit to the media when it does a good job. So let me give huge kudos to CNN for its most recent edition of "CNN Presents."
Titled "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown," the report spells out in pretty amazing detail for an hour long program how and, as best we can tell, why we got the intelligence about WMD in Iraq so tremendously wrong. Much of the information has been previously reported. Indeed, much of it is in the book I co-wrote last year, All the President's Spin.
However it's rare to see a major media organization take the time pull all the facts together and present what amounts to a pretty damning indictment of the government. And while CNN didn't take any cheap shots at the Bush administration, it also brought up questions about the responsibility of Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, et al for the ways they either incomptentently or dishonestly presented the intelligence they were given (in many cases that intelligence was wrong, but the bigger problems seems to be that the administration ignored the intelligence about WMD not existing that turned out to be right.)
Even though I knew much of this stuff from writing the book, it reminded me how TV journalism can be more powerful than any other medium since it can pull together so much information so compactly and tell a story so engagingly.
I had forgotten just how awful the intelligence failure was and how deeply, to my core, enraged I am at President Bush and his top aides for misleading this country into war. That's ignoring whether invading Iraq has ultimately turned out to be good or bad and what's the best way to resolve the problems there going forward. The fact is that through some combination of incompetence and dishonesty, Bush and his team dishonestly used intelligence to mislead the country into war. Even if the war turned out great, that's an unforgivable sin in a democracy, where we depend on our government to tell us the truth and give us an honest argument for a major decision like going to war. The fact that Bush is still in office, nobody involved in the WMD debacle has been held accountable, and Tenet and others got a medal of freedom makes me want to puke. Even "good guy" Colin Powell disgusts me. I don't care how bad he feels about his ultimately embarassing presentation to the Security Council. A real man apologizes to the country for his mistake and helps us figure out how and why it happened. But like everyone else in the Bush administration, Colin Powell doesn't seem to know what the words "responsibility" and "maturity" mean.
So anyway enough ranting. Kudos to CNN. I only wish they and other media outlets had the resources and motivation to do something like... ohhhh, maybe 2 or 3 years ago?