Friday, September 5, 2008

BOB WOODWARD--INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM BY THE VOLUME

U.S. Spied on Iraqi Leaders, Book Says Woodward Also Reveals That Political Fears Kept War Strategy Review 'Under the Radar'
By Steve Luxenberg Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, September 5, 2008; A01
The Bush administration has conducted an extensive spying operation on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, his staff and others in the Iraqi government, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward.
"We know everything he says," according to one of multiple sources Woodward cites about the practice in "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008," scheduled for release Monday.
The book also says that the U.S. troop "surge" of 2007, in which President Bush sent nearly 30,000 additional U.S. combat forces and support troops to Iraq, was not the primary factor behind the steep drop in violence there during the past 16 months.
Rather, Woodward reports, "groundbreaking" new covert techniques enabled U.S. military and intelligence officials to locate, target and kill insurgent leaders and key individuals in extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.
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Woodward doesn't do investigative journalism anymore. He hangs out instead. Hanging out is what gets you a cadre of hanger-outers upon which you can base a book a year and cash in big.
He's the big guy on the block, the replacement for what used to serve us as an independent press, before the press became just one more investment in this or that global portfolio. Which is OK for Bob and not so OK for the nation.
This incessant book-of-the-year club replacement of journalism has made Bob rich and the rest of us poor, should anyone be so old-fashioned as to still believe that an independent, investigative (even muckraking) press is essential to liberty. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and a bunch of other old and rusty names that gave us our republic, believed an independent press was worth double the value of armies, spies and provocations all rolled together. They worried about governmental power, which was pretty much all they could take care of by constitutional methods.
That worry seems quaint these days, when Mcain boasts of power and Obama fears the backlash of being labeled soft. The Constitution? How droll.
Who knew in those days (or even recently) that Pinch Sulzberger, Barry Diller, Michael Eisener, Sam Zell, John Malone, Rupert Murdoch and Donald Graham would sell out a free and vigorous press for their own thirty pieces of silver? Don Graham was (and presumably is) Woodward's last boss at the Washington Post before Bob hung it up to become an assistant managing editor.
WASHINGTON: In a new 487-page book that is to be released on September 8, noted Washington Post journalist and author Bob Woodward has termed US President George W.Bush "the nation's most divisive figure."
Well, you wouldn't have gathered that from WaPo or the NYTimes. They consistently fed us snippets, drenched in barbecue sauce. No evidence of presidential law-breaking, no investigative pieces into any of the 35 articles of impeachable offense offered by Dennis Kucinich and ignored by Nancy Pelosi. The investigative and independent press stops dead in its tracks these days when advertisers or investors put up their hands.
We are given liberty-lite, when allowed to sidle up to the bar at all. In keeping with trends, information has been privatized. We are, if nothing else, a trendy nation.
My complaint is not really about Woodward, it's about the failure these past 35 years to honor the Woodward-Bernstein effort that brought down a lying, thieving, paranoid and dangerous Richard Nixon. Better than half today's nation was not yet born or in diapers 35 years ago. The lamp has not been passed and thus the light goes out. Worse than that, without light, without the constant dawning of a new day, the memory of light disappears as well.
Donald Graham and Pinch Sulzberger have failed their family dynasties an inch at a time, failed their heritage as the preservers of free and unfettered information, aided and abetted the abuse of law by elected abusers of law and offered up the whole thing as a business-plan to save the newspaper business.
Saving it by decimating the newsroom and pandering to entertainment in its place. Saving it, as Sam Zell has saved it, by dismantling The Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times like rusted cars in a wrecking yard. Zell's chop-shop newspapering.
The newspaper business today (as John Nance Garner once described the vice presidency, some 60 years ago) "isn't worth a bucket of warm piss."
You can buy "The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008" for thirty-two bucks ($20.38 at Amazon.com) and find out what we might have learned for merely the price of a well-written, investigative newspaper--if one had survived.
Tom and John and Ben would not be pleased.