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Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Sheppard on Smearing Clinton: Strike Two
Topic: NewsBusters

NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard takes another whack at bashing the Clintons over Osama bin Laden -- with similarly misleading results.

As we previously noted, in a Sept. 29 post, Sheppard brought up the issue of a December 1998 Presidential Daily Brief warning of potential attacks by bin Laden as an example of Clinton administration inaction, but he failed to note that the 9/11 Commission report stated that the Clinton administration did do numerous things in response to the PDB -- namely, increasing security at major airports.

In an Oct. 2 NewsBusters post, Sheppard gives his attempt at a smear another go. He again suggests that the Clinton administration did nothing in reaction to the PDB, again not reporting what the 9/11 Commission stated. Sheppard then rehashes an alleged opportunity to take out bin Laden in late 1998, but he is so busy trying to furiously attack that he fails to examine the evidence. He notes that the 9/11 Commision report stated that one general had predicted the number of "innocent bystanders who would be killed or wounded" would be "well over 200 and was concerned about damage to a nearby mosque" and that then-counterrorism expert said, "I’m sure we’ll regret not acting last night," then huffed that "the Clinton administration was more concerned with the politics of the Middle East than in preventing the loss of American lives."

At least Sheppard quoted the 9/11 Commission report this time; unfortunately, it's selective quoting. Here's what the report stated about the strike that Sheppard didn't include in his post:

By the end of the meeting, the principals decided against recommending to the President that he order a strike. A few weeks later, in January 1999, [counterterrorism chief Richard] Clarke wrote that the principals had thought the intelligence only half reliable and had worried about killing or injuring perhaps 300 people. Tenet said he remembered doubts about the reliability of the source and concern about hitting the nearby mosque. "Mike" [Scheuer] remembered Tenet telling him that the military was concerned that a few hours had passed since the last sighting of Bin Ladin and that this persuaded everyone that the chance of failure was too great. 

So, even Scheuer -- Sheppard's unimpeachable source -- agreed that the intelligence information had gone bad quickly and was not the ironclad claim Sheppard suggested it was. But if Sheppard had quoted the full 9/11 Commission account, he wouldn't have had a post.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:36 AM EDT

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