Monday, October 09, 2006

Your liberal media at work

This from the New York Times

Secret Iraq Meeting Included Journalists

By JULIE BOSMAN
Published: October 9, 2006

It was the kind of shadowy, secret Washington meeting that Bob Woodward is fond of describing in detail. In his new book, “State of Denial,” he writes that on Nov. 29, 2001, a dozen policy makers, Middle East experts and members of influential policy research organizations gathered in Virginia at the request of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense. Their objective was to produce a report for President Bush and his cabinet outlining a strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of 9/11.

What was more unusual, Mr. Woodward reveals, was the presence of journalists at the meeting. Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International and a Newsweek columnist, and Robert D. Kaplan, now a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, attended the meeting and, according to Mr. Kaplan, signed confidentiality agreements not to discuss what happened.

While members of policy research groups often dispense advice to administration officials, journalists do not typically attend secret meetings or help compile government reports. Indeed, many Washington journalists complain that the current administration keeps them at an unhealthy distance.

Mr. Zakaria takes issue with Mr. Woodward’s account, saying that while he attended the meeting for several hours, he does not recall being told that a report would be produced.

...

Mr. Kaplan said much of the meeting was spent drafting and reworking the document, which in the end carried the names of all 12 participants and was “a forceful summary of some of the best pro-war arguments at the time.” Could any of the participants have been unaware there was a document in the making? “No, that’s not possible,” he said.

Mr. Kaplan, who was then a freelancer at The Atlantic Monthly, said he spoke to his editor before attending, and was given approval to attend because “everybody was in a patriotic fervor.”

Mr. Zakaria said he felt participating was appropriate because his views, as a columnist for Newsweek, were public, although he has never divulged his involvement to his readers.

“My column is an analytical column,” he said, adding that he gives advice to policy makers and elected officials: “If a senator calls me up and asks me what should we do in Iraq, I’m happy to talk to him.” JULIE BOSMAN

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