Spinonymous sources: Wash. Post granted Bush admin. officials anonymity to denounce "cheap shots" over British troop withdrawal


In a February 22 Washington Post article analyzing the political repercussions of British Prime Minster Tony Blair's decision to begin withdrawing British troops from Iraq, staff writers Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker granted anonymity to a Bush administration official who denounced "domestic opponents" who, in the official's opinion, will use news of the withdrawal to "take cheap shots." The article stated that the official was granted anonymity to "talk candidly about political strategy":

[O]ther administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity so they could talk candidly about political strategy, expressed frustration that the British decision will look bad to everyday Americans, and acknowledged that it will provide ammunition to domestic opponents.

"It's a brick in the hands of folks who want to take cheap shots," one official said. "But I think it's unfair."

The article did not offer any indication of how the anonymous official's accusation constituted a discussion of "political strategy." In addition, they did not quote any critics specifically responding to the anonymous official's claim, nor did they quote the reaction of any Democrats or progressives to the British troop withdrawal. The "analysis" did quote Sen. John Warner (R-VA) claiming he is worried "that the American public will be quite perplexed by the president adding forces while our principal ally is subtracting forces." The article also quoted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) asserting that "it's Alice in Wonderland looking through the looking glass" to claim the British withdrawal is a sign of success in Iraq.

The only Democrat or progressive quoted in the article was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who responded to Vice President Dick Cheney's attack that a Democratic plan to "tie war funding in a supplemental spending bill to strict new standards for resting, equipping and training troops" would "validate the al-Qaeda strategy" by "calling on Bush to 'repudiate and distance himself from the Vice President's remark.' "

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
The Washington Post
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