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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    What about Bob?

    Shurid Sencolumnist
    Shurid Sen
    columnist

    The media often revel in the chance to expose, reveal and uncover what lies beneath the dirty underbelly of politics. It was the goal of “”muckraker”” journalists in the early 20th century, who hoped to publicize corruption. The tradition continues with Washington Post journalist and writer Bob Woodward, who recently came out with his latest book “”State of Denial.””

    The book, released earlier this week, is an indictment of the Bush administration’s incompetence and unwillingness to think realistically in its handling of the war in Iraq. Woodward claims President Bush and senior officials ignored warnings leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks and purposefully painted a rosier-than-reality picture of Iraq, when much of the evidence shows a continued ignorance of fact to pursue an ideologically driven agenda. Though the subject of the book is certainly controversial, some of the criticism Woodward has received since its publication is woefully misguided.

    The book has been questioned for its timing, and critics say this is just an attempt to smear the president before the election. Woodward admittedly released the book a month before the November elections in an attempt to impact the knowledge of voters at a critical moment. Defending his decision to hold publication until now, Woodward said, “”the real obligation here…is to tell it before the election.””

    Is it fair to criticize him solely for the timing of his book? Consider the nation’s fickle attention span for news and a media in which crucial scandals and news stories get snow-jobbed in a matter of weeks. How can one blame Woodward for fearing that his crucial revelations would get thrown to the wayside and forgotten for the elections?

    Weapons of mass destruction – remember them? As early as the last months of 2003, it was evident that there were no WMDs in Iraq. Amazingly, those pesky WMDs have yet to turn up. It’s not because Saddam Hussein was smart enough to innovate walking, talking weapons capable of hiding themselves. Still, according to a July Harris poll, a full 50 percent of Americans responded “”true”” when asked “”Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded,”” reflecting a perpetuation of a false memory.

    Um, in case you know someone who thinks this way, just let him know ever-so-gently that they still haven’t found WMDs. Three and a half years later. FYI.

    Woodward has also been criticized for partisan Republican bashing and trying to get in the “”good graces of liberals”” according to Fox News’ Ann Coulter on Saturday. This line of thought conveniently ignores his other documentations of the Bush administration, including “”Bush at War.”” Ironically, he was criticized then for being too cozy with the Bush administration, trading journalistic integrity for a prime seat as official scribe for Bush.

    The allegations that the book makes are so important that they should supersede partisan bickering. Citing several recently declassified documents, Woodward claims that Bush’s repeatedly upbeat, positive message regarding Iraq was incongruent with the information and facts at his and senior officials’ fingertips. This includes statistics showing greater levels of attacks on U.S. troops that the administration had thus far refused to share.

    One of the most destructive allegations of the book recounts a July 2001 meeting between then-CIA director George Tenet and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, in which Tenet tried to warn Rice of the increasing threat of terrorism, which Rice ignored. If true, the allegation implicates both Rice and Tenet in hiding information from the 9/11 Commission, as neither made mention of the incident in their reports.

    When the public is presented a documentation formed with facts, data and first-person accounts that suggests falsification and manipulation of the truth, we should listen. We, the voting public, should be informed, at the very least, of where the debate lies, then make our own decisions at the polls.

    Woodward’s pursuit of government transparency and honesty should be lauded. This is still the man who teamed up with Carl Bernstein to bring us Watergate and the downfall of Richard “”I Am Not a Crook”” Nixon. This is still the man who helped unearth the biggest scandal to hit the presidency, ever. This is still the poster boy for (actual) fair, unbiased reporting, so much so as to have been faulted for too much passivity in his writing and not enough interjection. This is still arguably the foremost journalist of our time.

    Maybe we should take his allegations seriously.

    Shurid Sen is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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