Patterico's Pontifications


My Letter to the Readers’ Representative Regarding the Error in the John McCain Hit Piece

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 12:01 am

I have sent the following e-mail to Los Angeles Times Readers’ Representative Jamie Gold:


A March 28 article titled “John McCain is betting big on Iraq” states:

Postwar investigations, including the 9/11 Commission Report and a report this month financed by the Pentagon, found no evidence of a “collaborative relationship” between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.

The use of quotation marks around the phrase “collaborative relationship” indicates that both reports used that phrase. But neither the 9/11 Commission Report nor the Pentagon report contains the phrase “collaborative relationship.” Here are links to the 9/11 Commission Report and the Pentagon report. Neither uses the phrase “collaborative relationship.”

I think your writer may have been quoting a “staff statement” prepared by the staff for the Commission, as distinguished from the final report by the Commission itself. The distinction is meaningful. The New York Times quoted Commissioner Kean as saying of the staff statement: “This was a staff statement, and we’ve had commissioners who have disagreed occasionally with the staff statements, and this may be one of those occasions.”

And indeed, the conclusion regarding Iraq/Al Qaeda contacts was worded differently in the Commission’s final report, which took care to refer to an absence of “collaborative operational relationship” — while the report listed many contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

The inclusion of the word “operational” in the 9/11 Commission Report was a critical difference that reflected the opinion of many Commissioners that there was indeed a series of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda, that, in the words of one, amounted to a “cooperative relationship” — just not an operational relationship that culminated in the 9/11 attacks. For a full explanation of why the use of the word “operational” in the final report is critical, you can read my post here (and the links therein).

I suggest a correction along these lines:

A March 28 article stated that: “Postwar investigations, including the 9/11 Commission Report and a report this month financed by the Pentagon, found no evidence of a ‘collaborative relationship’ between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime.” In fact, that phrase did not appear in either report. The phrase appeared in a statement prepared by the staff of the 9/11 Commission, while the 9/11 Commission’s final report alluded to the lack of a “collaborative operational relationship.”

Put simply: the article asserts that two reports used a phrase that neither actually used. I think a correction is in order.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey

Previous post here.

I’m not even bothering with the bit about “Bush administration claims that Hussein appeared linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” I’m sticking with the clear, provable falsehood.


  1. “Bush administration claims that Hussein appeared linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”

    Patterico – This one is a whopper.

    As evidenced by the folks that dropped by yesterday, they are heavily invested in the whole BDS theories of Bush lied, Bush linked Saddam to 9/11, no ties between Saddam and AQ, etc … No amount of facts, reason, or logic will change their minds, as facts, reason, and logic did not lead them to their conclusion.

    Comment by JD (75f5c3) — 3/25/2008 @ 3:53 am

  2. Patterico,

    You amaze me in thinking Jamie Gold is an honorable person who does an honorable job at the Dishonorable LA Times. You’d have more luck getting along with Rodney King.

    Comment by PCD (5ebd0e) — 3/25/2008 @ 4:52 am

  3. Good letter…

    Even if you’ll just get the form letter reply of “we think the difference can be seen by readers, no change needed”…

    It’s like they are trying to be lying crapweasles…

    Comment by Scott Jacobs (fa5e57) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:21 am

  4. I just want to say how impressed I am with Patterico’s encyclopedic knowledge of this topic. I knew he was truly on top of the subject matter when he told me about the staff report containing the phrase “collaborative relationship” in the comments of the previous post.

    I’m reasonably sure that’s how it happened.

    Comment by Foo Bar (03f778) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:23 am

  5. It’s like they are trying to be lying crapweasles…

    They are not trying. It comes naturally to them.

    Comment by JD (75f5c3) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:42 am

  6. Oh, settle down, Foo Bar. My update to the other post hat-tips you. What did you want, for me to hat-tip you in the e-mail to her?

    Comment by Patterico (4bda0b) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:46 am

  7. Whoops, my bad! Apologies.

    Comment by Foo Bar (8e06dc) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:54 am

  8. Is this going to be another “waiting for Godot” moment?
    I think I’ll not hold my breath waiting for the correction; at least not until I can get hooked up to an intravenous oxygenating machine.
    #5 nailed it!

    Comment by Another Drew (f9dd2c) — 3/25/2008 @ 7:35 am

  9. 8, just have Dr. McCoy inject you with a Tri-Ox compound, or if you go back to the Supermarionation days of ITV, get some of those air pills used on “Fireball XL5″.

    Comment by PCD (5ebd0e) — 3/25/2008 @ 11:26 am

  10. Just hop in your Shuttlecraft,Space pod,climb into Fireball Jr and take a trip down to a strange new planet

    Comment by krazy kagu (bab2f6) — 3/25/2008 @ 12:32 pm

  11. Something that Stephen Hayes has pointed out over at The Weekly Standard is that these government reports are drawing an artificial and meaningless distinction between Al Queda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

    Both reports contain much information about contacts between Hussein’s regime and EIJ throughout the 1990s.

    At the time, EIJ was headed up by Al-Zawahiri. EIJ is an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and was formed in the 1970s when the MB decided to engage in the political arena in Egypt rathert than continue to create an Islamic Republic by force. EIJ, headed by Al-Zawahiri, was responsible for asassinating Sadat.

    Al-Zawahiri became acquiated with OBL while OBL maintained his base of operations in Sudan. When OBL was forced out of Sudan and went back to Afghanistan, Al-Zawahiri joined him there, and a functional merging of AQ and EIJ took place.

    So, while they were technically not merged in the early 1990s when EIJ was being entertained by Hussein in Iraq, the much better established EIJ shared the same basic outlook as OBL’s flegling AQ in Sudan.

    That pretty much lays waste to the CIA naysayers claims that “secularist” Hussein would have never been in bed with the Islamic fundamentalist groups like AQ and EIJ.

    Comment by WLS (68fd1f) — 3/25/2008 @ 1:06 pm

  12. I think a lot of the “info” put out by CIA on these groups was pure CYA-BS because they just flat-ass dropped the ball on IslamoFascism – it didn’t fit their narative. They (the CIA) are feeding BS to their faves in the media, who then put their own spin on the spin, and no one knows what to believe. And we’re supposed to trust what they tell us now?

    Comment by Another Drew (f9dd2c) — 3/25/2008 @ 2:56 pm

  13. I want to make sure Patterico doesn’t miss this from jim2 in response to Patterico’s solicitation of views regarding whether I was right that he should have updated his post.

    Jim2 is a regular reader and commenter and is self-described as neither a Dem nor a liberal, and he agreed with me.

    On the off chance that Patterico is interested in reassessing whether I represented a brick wall of partisan pigheadedness in that comment thread, he might want to reflect on how (un)common it is for a commenter to visit the comments of a blogger from the opposing party and convince a regular reader from the blogger’s party of his argument.

    Comment by Foo Bar (8e06dc) — 3/25/2008 @ 5:51 pm

  14. On the off chance that Patterico is interested in reassessing …

    You should just learn to read. Then you might see that there is no need to reassess anything about you.

    Comment by Stashiu3 (c8e98a) — 3/26/2008 @ 5:09 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3699 secs.