7.26.2005

Smearing Larry Johnson

Counter-terrorism and ex-CIA operative Larry Johnson responds to the Republican asswipes who started questioning his credibility this week. (Via Crooks and Liars.)

If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is what happened. Last week, Larry Johnson and 10 other former intelligence officers delivered a letter to the Congressional leadership of both parties. The letter is essentially a defense of Valerie Plame and the assertion that she was a covert operative; it is highly critical of the leak that blew her cover. Johnson has been an outspoken critic of the administration in this affair.

So this week, Gary Schmidtt, the executive director of the neocon cult the Project for a New American Century, the group whose civilian members run the Pentagon, criticized Larry Johnson in The Weekly Standard, citing Johnson's July 2001 New York Times OpEd as demonstrating Johnson's "pre-9/11 mindset."

Unfortunately, Schmidtt either missed or was too incompetent to find Larry Johnson's post-9/11, pre-Iraq Invasion article, "Setting the Record Straight on Iraqi Terrorism." The article is one of the most detailed accounts of Saddam's terrorist ties that I've read, and in it Johnson notes that Al Qaeda's ties with Saddam are (surprise) tenuous at best. It warns that invading Iraq may galvanize Arab opinion against the United States, result in more terrorists and inspire an insurgency. Clearly, in 2003, Johnson's "pre-9/11 mindset" just couldn't cut it.

But the larger issue is the White House's approach to criticism. And I think it's woefully naive to think that Schmidtt isn't working with the White House on this.

Why respond to criticism when you can just smear the critic? That's Karl's M.O. Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard's Editor, should be ashamed of himself and his Party, which has behaved abominably throughout the entire Plame affair. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

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