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Kristol: The Washington Post Distorts Palin on Page One (Updated)

12:02 AM, Sep 12, 2008 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Here are the headline and the first two paragraphs from an article posted online that apparently will be on the front page of Friday's Washington Post:

"Palin Links Iraq to 9/11, A View Discarded by Bush"
By Anne E. Kornblut
 Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008; A01

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Sept. 11 -- Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would "defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans."

The idea that Iraq shared responsibility with al-Qaeda for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. On any other day, Palin's statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday's anniversary."

Kornblut's interpretation of what Palin said is either stupid or malicious. Palin is evidently saying that American soldiers are going to Iraq to defend innocent Iraqis from al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that is related to al Qaeda, which did plan and carry out the Sept. 11 attacks. It makes no sense for Kornblut to claim that Palin is arguing here that Saddam Hussein's regime carried out 9/11-obviously Palin isn't saying that our soldiers are now going over to Iraq to fight Saddam's regime. Palin isn't linking Saddam to 9/11. She's linking al Qaeda in Iraq to al Qaeda.

People can debate how intimate that connection is, and how much of the fight in Iraq is now against al Qaeda in Iraq--but it's simply the case that Palin is not saying what Kornblut says she is, and that the Washington Post is, right now, leading its paper with a clear distortion of what Palin said.

Update by John McCormack: It appears the Washington Post has tried to (partially) walk back Kornblut's distortion that Palin tied responsibility for 9/11 to Saddam Hussein's regime. The second paragraph of this story, as noted above, originally read:

The idea that Iraq shared responsibility with al-Qaeda for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. On any other day, Palin's statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday's anniversary."

It now reads:

The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.

The Post still ascribes an idea to Palin that she evidently wasn't promoting. It's nice that the Post threw in the sentence: "But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion."

But the Post still does not acknowledge that that linkage between al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq is precisely what Palin was referring to.