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"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket
"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
January 20, 2009
Free John Barry's Brain!
[T]urn to Congress—and the core charge that the administration "misled" the legislature and the American public by faking evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Really? There is ample evidence that Saddam was genuinely believed to have an arsenal by those with access to the intelligence. Why? Because Saddam's closest associates and his army commanders believed it; and told the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6, when, by ingenious and genuinely heroic efforts, those intelligence agencies made contact with them. All this is a matter of public record.
It would be incredible for any reporter to write this. The US was told by the head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service Tahir Jalil Habbush, Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, and dozens of relatives of Iraqi WMD scientists that the administration's claims were completely wrong.
But it's truly mind-boggling to hear it from John Barry. It's not just that Barry is one of the better corporate reporters on foreign policy. No, it's much worse: Barry personally broke a giant story immediately before the invasion of Iraq about the U.S. government faking WMD evidence.
In the March 3, 2003 issue of Newsweek, Barry revealed that Saddam's son-in-law Hussein Kamel, after defecting to Jordan in 1995, told the US and UN that Iraq had no remaining WMD. This was the opposite of what Bush, Cheney, Blair and Powell were claiming Kamel had said. According to Barry, Kamel's statements had been "hushed up." (Barry says this was done by the UN, but it clearly happened with the connivance of the US.)
But there's more. After Barry's story came out, Reuters asked Bill Harlow, the CIA spokesman and one of George Tenet's closest aides, to comment. Harlow vociferously attacked Barry, calling his article "incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue."
Of course, Barry's story was completely accurate. And it was about something the CIA in 2003 knew with 100% certainty—ie, what Hussein Kamel had said in 1995. (This is opposed to, say, whether what Kamel had said was true. It was later learned he'd been completely honest.)
So to sum up: even after having the CIA blatantly lie about his own work, John Barry will angrily defend the government's veracity.
It's genuinely frightening to see what people have to do to keep their jobs at places like Newsweek. Hopefully Barack Obama is about to create some glasnost within the US government, but even if he does, America's news outlets will retain an alarmingly Soviet tinge.
—Jonathan SchwarzPosted at January 20, 2009 09:10 AM