Doing the dirty work of careerists at the State Department and CIA, the Washington Post has used its respected platform to besmirch the names of both public and private figures at the Pentagon and tar them with the implication of harboring dual loyalties for Israel—or worse, that they possibly acted on those supposed impulses.
What did the five individuals named by the Post on September 4—who were a mix of low-level bureaucrats, high-ranking officials, and one former advisor on the Defense Policy Board—have in common? They were all Jews.
That’s not all. The Post piece further explains that all “have strong ties to Israel,” and that three of them were “co-authors of a 1996 policy paper for then-Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.” (Not mentioned was that the piece was neither commissioned nor funded nor sanctioned by Netanyahu or the Israeli government.)
Lest anyone still might not get that the five named Jews are possibly involved with dual loyalties to the Jewish state, the Post quoted “one source interviewed by the FBI about the defense officials” explaining the origins of the investigation: “‘The initial interest was: Do you believe certain people would spy for Israel and pass secret information?’”
What was the news value of such a story? It was supposedly a follow-up to previous recent stories about an actual FBI investigation into low-level Pentagon Iran analyst Larry Franklin, who is reportedly suspected of passing classified information to a pro-Israel U.S. lobbying group. But there was no story, at least not one with any news value.
Reading the piece closely, none of the five is actually a target of any investigation. The actual language is: “Investigators have specifically asked about a group of neoconservatives involved in defense issues.”
To a casual reader, however, such a distinction might not be apparent. Why else, after all, would a nationally esteemed news organization name names of low-level bureaucrats with no public profiles unless they had been convicted, indicted, or at least on the verge of one or the other?
An investigation alone is hardly newsworthy.
Buried nine paragraphs into the 1,100-word article is an insistence from “Pentagon officials” that the five named Jews were not “the subjects of the intelligence leak investigation.” The Post knew full well that they were not targets of any investigation, otherwise they would have written that they were.
It is hard to imagine that exclusion of an explicit statement that the men were not formally under investigation was a mere oversight. Rather, it appears part of a pattern in which the Post has advanced the political cause of careerists at the State Department and the CIA.
For all the media coverage of a divide between the Pentagon and the State Department—true to a certain extent—the real rift is between careerist diplomats and intelligence officials and the political appointees in the foreign policy team, the latter of which are largely based at the Pentagon, though a handful are at State or at the Office of the Vice President.
These intra-administration fights are often brutal. While the so-called “neoconservatives”—the political appointees, many of whom have nothing “neo” about their conservatism—have largely stuck to fighting through traditional policy channels, the careerists at State and CIA have made sport of leaking damning accusations and baseless charges at the so-called neocons, particularly to the Post.
Notice that of the six Post stories on Franklin or potential espionage for Israel—which ran almost one right after the other, from August 28 to September 4—the paper’s State Department reporter, Robin Wright, had a byline on four and a contribution line on one. No other Post reporter was as involved.
How does an FBI investigation about an official (or possibly, officials) at the Pentagon involve the State Department?
The only apparent answer seems to be that Wright, who has a history of extremely chummy reporting of the agency for both the Post and previously for the Los Angeles Times, was needed to report the State Department’s party line. Not to knock her skills as a reporter—she has a solid reputation as a newshound—but Wright has no doubt been helped over the years by crafting pieces largely flattering for State, and she’s known as one of deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage’s favorite outlets.
Nearly a month later, the “questions” being asked about the five named individuals are, it seems, no longer being asked. According to one person recently interviewed by the FBI concerning the Franklin case, “It’s my understanding, after talking to others questioned by the FBI, that no one has been asked about them [the people named by the Post].”
The old adage goes that the charge runs on page one, the acquittal on page 29. If, as appears likely, not even an investigation results on the five named individuals, will the Post write a high-profile story about them being cleared of charges that were never brought?