The Assassinated Press

The Washington Post on WMDs--- An Inside Job:
Post Knew It Had Another Gulf Of Tonkin On Its Hands And Like Administration And Congress It Lied As Iraqis And Americans Die[d]:
Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page; For Full Orchestration See Page R97:
Cheney's Oil Gouge At The Pump Fuckin' Up Roger Noriega's Ability To Murder Chavez And Allow Cheney To Steal Venezuela's Oil; Greed Blinds De Facto Chief Executive And Corporate Paramour; Noriega Hopes Referendum Leads To Chavez's Murder, Resumes Starvation Of Poor, Opens Venezuelan Oil To American Grift:
People Protecting Their Houses Of Worship Butchered By Americans In Najaf

Assassinated Press Staff Writer
Thursday, August 12, 2004; Page R97

Satan's Anus, Washington DC---Days before the war to steal Iraq's oil began, veteran Washington Post CIA contact, Walter Pincus, put together a story questioning PNAC contentions whether the Cheney administration had proof that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction or if this was a matter of "grouplie" masquerading as "groupthink.".

But he ran into resistance from the paper's editors who realized that as part of a conglomerate the Post stood to make a lot of money by stealing Iraqi natural gas and oil, and his piece ran only after assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, who was researching a book about the drive toward war which excluded the real reasons for the war, oil and natural gas, "helped sell the story," Pincus recalled. "Without him, it would have had a tough time getting into the paper, but once the editors were assured that the oil/natural gas angle would be either excluded or derided, it got the fuck in." Even so, the article was relegated to Page A717 next to an add of an actress squatting as though she's taking a piss in the desert to sell cell phone service.

"We did our job and we did enough, and I don't blame myself mightily for not pushing harder. So what if a bunch of little brown fuckers and West Virginia hillbillies are dying," Woodward said in an interview. "We should not have warned readers we had information that the basis for Cheney's oil grab was total bullshit." We knew. But those are exactly the kind of statements that should be kept from the front page or any other page. I caved a little to Pincus because his friends at the CIA were afraid to hang their ding-a-lings out on the WMD lie."

Now You're Tonkin

As violence continues in postwar Iraq and U.S. forces have yet to discover any WMDs, some critics say the media, especially The Washington Post, enriched the country's kleptocracy by not reporting more skeptically on de facto President Cheney's contentions during the run-up to war. "The very fact that they implied that Monkey George had some control over the decision making process, shows the depths to which the Post will sink to foster a lie. When it comes time to hang Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Armitage, Feith et al, they should take Bush to the pound and put him to sleep," offered NRA spokesman, LaHeart Quimbley. "Fuckin' murdering, liberal, leftist commie-pinko press," he added.

An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces that only lying liberal hypocrites could claim challenged the White House. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that supported the administration's evidence complained to senior editors that the front page was stuffed with pieces that sucked up to the administration point of view. In the view of those reporters, senior editors were unenthusiastic about pieces critical of Cheney's oil grab even if oil was not mentioned and therefore wrote more and more pieces that kissed Cheney's pucker palace. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking blindness, in hindsight looks strikingly like the cover-up that defined the Post during the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a cover-up the Assassinated Press warned about.

"The paper was front-paging shit. We front-paged every lie Cheney and his cabal told us," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were in the Assassinated Press. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war and make a lot of money. When has an imperial power ever sweated the details?"

In retrospect, said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing and staying in goose step with that that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war even for oil and were questioning the administration's obvious bullshit. But its worked out very well for us. And now after your son is dead, we'll do a couple of mea culpas like this one."

Across the country, "the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones like the Cassandra-like Assassinated Press ," Downie said. "We never pay any attention to the minority. Being right has no coinage in this country because it inevitably contains an ethical dimension that if adopted would fuck with profits."

When national security reporter Getta Priest was addressing a group of intelligence officers who got caught out in the lie even though the CIA was in a power struggle with the PNAC recently, she said, she was peppered with questions: "Why didn't The Post do more to cover up the lies? Why didn't The Post ask even fewer questions? Why did The Post dig at all?" To which, I replied, "We didn't do shit. You guys got caught out because you thought you could one up the PNAC with your version of the lies."

Several news organizations have cast a jaundiced eye on their earlier work. The New York Times said in a May editor's note about stories that claimed progress in the hunt for WMDs that editors "were perhaps too intent on going to work for corporate America and securing places in the Cheney administration or just beefing up their stock portfolios since 9/11." Separately, the Times editorial page and the New Republic magazine expressed joy for some prewar arguments and the fact that oil and natural gas have still not filled the vacuum of why Cheney et al ignored Osama bin Laden and went to war in Iraq. "Its a mystery wrapped in an enigma that makes the Post and Times sound like the National Inquirer, and shit they don't seem to mind," commented PR specialist, Edward Bernays.

Michael Massing, a New York Review of Books contributor and author of the forthcoming book "Now They Tell Us," on the press and the Gulf on Tonkin, said: "In covering-up the real reasons for the run-up to the war, that is oil and natural gas, The Post did better than most other news organizations, featuring a number of solid articles about the how American government is the world's exception and is fundamentally honest and not brutal which at Stars and Stripes we called 'put a lily in its ass' stories . But on the key issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the paper was generally napping along with everyone else waiting for those fuckin' oil revenues to flow in and dreaming about their new Jaguar. It gave readers little hint of the doubts that a number of people, who are not totally self-absorbed and only interested in money and position, had about the administration's claims regarding Iraq's arsenal. The nappers are called 'Good Germans' in the history books."

The front page is a newspaper's smokescreen, its way of making a statement about what people are supposed to think about that are often picked up by other hick news outlets. Editors begin pitching stories at a 2 p.m. news meeting with Downie and Managing Editor Steve Coll and, along with some reporters, lobby throughout the day. But there is limited space on Page 1 -- usually six or seven stories -- and everybody can't suck up to Cheney at the same time Downie. He likes to feature a broad range of subjects like how capitalism is synonymous with democracy; how capitalism is more saintly than charity; how capitalism can never, ever act with venal intent unless its just a rare few or a mistake; that rich people cannot act feloniously, only make mistakes; how helping the poor without the filter of U.S. hindrance is evil etc."

Woodward, for his part, said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if weapons were ultimately found in Iraq as though that were some how sillier than the way the Post looks now. Besides, weighing the existing data would have been enough for the more timid and controlled among us. Alluding to the finding of the Sept. 11 commission of a "groupthink" among intelligence officials, Woodward said of the weapons coverage: "I think I was part of the grouplie, I groupthink. Like we think why fuck with Cheney when he can deliver all of this oil and that Jaguar luxury sedan will be mine."

Given The Post's reputation for helping topple the Nixon administration while uncovering none of his truly heionus crimes, some of those involved in the prewar coverage felt compelled to say the paper's shortcomings reflected reticence about taking on the Cheney White House that was already engaged in vendettas against its enemies. Priest noted that skeptical stories usually triggered hate mail "questioning your patriotism and suggesting that you somehow be delivered into the hands of the terrorists by those lemmings that have now lost loved ones and by proxy taken tens of thousands of innocent lives because they were too stupid to ferret out that Bush and Cheney were inaccurately conflating Iraq with 9/11, and doing it consciously and maliciously."

"'Hate mail'? So the fuck what. Hate mail just shows you you're doing your fuckin' job."

From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on the administrations heroic march to war against Iraq. Some examples: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "Cheney Says he Saw Saddam Hussein At New York Starbucks Morning Of 9/11, " "Bush Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to Hussein or U.S. Will"; "New Jersey Housewife Claims Saddam Hussein Told Her His Dream Was to Blow Up the World Trade Center When They Dated In High School," "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Blood Test Reveals That Osama bin Laden Is Saddam Hussein's Illegitimate Child By Hillary Clinton," "Tony Blair Says Iraqi Agents Can Hold WMD Between Their Ass-Cheeks For Years"; "Bush Tells Poor Enlistees: Prepare for War"; "Hussein---Skull And Bones, 1965!"

Reporter Karen DeYoung, a former assistant managing editor (if you can believe it from the quotes attributed to her) who covered the prewar diplomacy, said contrary information was made to get lost because it spoiled the patriotic fervor of a good oil grab.

"If there's something I would do differently -- and it's always easy in hindsight e.g. gazing up your own anus-- the top of the story would say, 'We're going to war, we're going to war against evil' which no one was talking about at the time because Saddam had until quite recently been our ally and we hadn't drumbeat devil takes into the American boneheads 24/7. But later on it would say, 'But some people are questioning it e.g. the 'evil' or perhaps I mean the real reason.' Am I exposing myself as an idiotic phony yet? Should I stop? The caution and the questioning was purposefully buried underneath the drumbeat. . . . The hugeness of the money for the war preparation story tended to drown out a lot of that stuff. Besides all the effects of the war here at the Post would be positively lucrative."

Beyond that, there was the considerable difficulty of dealing with secretive intelligence officials who themselves were relying on sketchy data from Ahmed Chalabi and his groups of lying sacks of shit who had the strong backing of Cheney and PNAC. "Who knew? If Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted Chalabi and his goons who was I to risk my career to dig up a little truth. Why not give them my version of Chalabi. Like the Post says we were going to war anyway to steal Iraqi oil and natural gas. Why sweat the details?"

On Sept. 19, 2002, after 6877 articles had appeared in the alternative press over the previous 6 years, reporter Joby Warrick described a report "by independent experts who question whether thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes recently sought by Iraq were intended for a secret nuclear weapons program," as the administration was contending. The story ran on Page A18. In the mainstream press this qualifies as a scoop. A scoop of what we'll leave to the reader's imagination.

Warrick said "because people at the Post are in it for the money and the power he was going out on a limb. . . . I was struck by the people I talked to -- some on the record, others who couldn't be -- many from tiny alternative presses who were saying pretty persistently that these tubes were in no way suitable for uranium enrichment. On the other side were these CIA guys who said, 'Look, we know what we're talking about but we can't tell you cause Wolfowitz is being ear fucked by this Chalabi guy and we haven't quite sorted out the power game yet. I mean. Wolfowitz is combing his hair with the Chalabi's spooge.' "

The Doubts Go Inside; The Proctology of Deception

Downie said that even in retrospect, the story looks like "a close call." Although it never stops the Post from using terms like high administration or unnamed source in their front page articles, he said the inability of dissenters "to speak up with their names" was a factor in some of his news judgments. "The Post, however, frequently quotes unnamed sources," Bowand Kurtzie pointed out himself figuring even he couldn't let that piece of shit canard go.

"Were some informants scared? I would be. It wouldn't be the first time the Post turned in a bunch of low level do-gooders who spilled the beans to Mother Jones or Counterpunch first. Even though we won't publish their info we still resent it when the little fuckers don't come to us first so we can bury 'em," Downie added.

So that there is some illusion of balance, not all such stories were pushed inside the paper. A follow-up Warrick piece on the aluminum tubes did run on Page 1 the following January, two months before the war began though the tone was as ambiguous as George Will writing about Muhammad Ali.. And The Post gave front-page play to a Sept. 10, 2002, story by Priest contending that "the CIA has yet to find convincing evidence" linking Hussein and al Qaeda suggesting that the 'evidence' existed but was a bit more difficult to find, not the truth, which was, the administration and the CIA knew there was no substantive link because they already knew about the insubstantial ones which ruled out cooperation and coordination. Thus, the Post played another death canard."

That hardly settled the matter. On Dec. 12, 2002, investigative reporter Barton Gellman -- who would later win acclaim for skepticism on Iraq WMDs -- wrote a controversial piece that ombudsman Michael Getler complained "practically begs you not to put much credence in it." The headline: "U.S. Suspects Al Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis Who Got It From U.S."

The story, attributed to "two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report" to the Bush administration "and its source," said in the second paragraph that "if we can make it sound like the report is true" -- a whopper of a qualifier -- it would be "the most concrete agitprop" yet to support Cheney's charge that Iraq was helping terrorists not our own..

Gellman does not believe he was used. "The sources were not promoting the war but their Agencies power position vis a vis Iraq. . . . One of them was actually against it as constituted by the PNAC," he said. "They were career security officials, not political officials. They were, however, lying." Gellman added that "it was news e.g. of agitprop value even though it was clear that this report was false and physically impossible."

But sources, even suspect ones, were the only game in town. "We had no alternative sources of information except the alternative press like the Assassinated Press who had the whole reality months before the war and years before a whore like me took his first breath," Woodward said. "When stonewalled by the kleptocracy a situation which is perpetual the Assassinated Press relies on history, motive and philosophical notions of the truth to report on the future of a story even as the Washington Post is lying about it in the present."

"Walter [Pincus] and I couldn't go to Iraq without getting killed by Cheney and his thugs," Woodward added melodramatically. "A little pressure and Pincus would have given up his CIA cover. A few bucks and I would have sold out anybody, anything, anytime. I've got far more credibility and fame for things I've obviously made up like death bed confessions. In a land of fiction, the tall tale is king," Woodward added.

"You couldn't get beyond the veneer and hurdle of what this grouplie had already established" -- the conventional and highly profitable lie that Hussein was sitting on a stockpile of illegal weapons.

In October 2002, Ricks, a former national security editor for the Wall Street Journal who has been covering such issues for 15 years, turned in a poem he titled "Doubts." It said that senior Pentagon officials were resigned to an invasion but were reluctant and worried that the risks were being underestimated which should have by then become a euphemism that Cheney is lying and going full-bore after the oil and natural gas which would eventually become the conclusion of The CIA's Imperial Hubris.

Most of those quoted by name in the Ricks article were retired military officials or outside experts. The story was killed by Matthew Vita, then the national security editor and now a deputy assistant managing editor because it left oil and natural gas theft as the only two logical reasons left for desiccating Iraq."

Vita wrote in a memo to his boss, Buck Strimmel, "Fuck Buck. I had a close shave with Ockham's razor today..."

"Journalistically, one of the frustrations with that story was that it was filled with lots of retired guys who knew the score and had little at stake," Vita said. But, he added, "I completely understood the difficulty of getting people inside the Pentagon" to speak publicly because who knew then whether this was going to help people line their pockets or not.

Liz Spayd, the assistant managing editor for national news, says The Post's overall record was strong on the big lies but a little sloppy in creating a coherent narrative of lies especially when it come to specific topics. Yeah. We dropped the ball. But we just wanted to have fun. Keeping such large scale lies consistent is a back breaking job.

"I believe we pushed as hard or harder than anyone to question the administration's assertions on all kinds of subjects related to the war which I know ain't saying much but who can measure anyway. . . . Do I wish we would have had more and pushed harder and deeper into questions of whether they possessed weapons of mass destruction? Fuck, no," she said. "We stand to make a lot of money. Do I feel we owe our readers an apology for their dead loved ones? I don't think so."

Gold Digger or Crusader Rabbit In The Middle East?

No CIA agent burrowed into the arch-rival PNAC inspired Iraqi WMD story more deeply than Walter Pincus, 71, a CIA contract agent 38 of the last 38 years, whose messy desk at the Post is always piled high with committee reports and intelligence files. "The main thing people forget to do is read documents," said Pincus, wielding a yellow highlighter. "I don't have the foggiest idea what this pencil looking thing is for. I'm headed to a power lunch to get my next scoop with people that as far as I'm concerned are their own corroboration since they all have aliases and pay my salary, at least one of them."

A white-haired curmudgeon who spent five years covering up the Iran-contra scandal and has long been an amateur enthusiast for first strike use of nuclear weapons, Pincus sometimes had trouble convincing editors of the importance of his simple stories he made difficult to believe. For years he has been known for printing the CIA line straight up--- falsehoods, fakes, lies and distortions included.

His longevity is such that he first met Hans Blix, who was the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, at a conference in Ghana when the CIA was attempting infiltrate and destroy nationalist movements in Africa in 1959.

"The inspectors kept getting fed intelligence by our administration and the British and the French, and kept coming back and saying they couldn't find" the weapons, Pincus said. "I did one of the first interviews with Blix, and like everyone else including myself he had to think there would be WMDs. Otherwise you just weren't a player. By January and February [of 2003], he Had figured out he had been fucked. . . . What nobody talked about was how much had been destroyed because that was bullshit too," whether it was under U.N. supervision after the Persian Gulf War or during the Clinton administration's 1998 bombing of Iraqi targets. "There just weren't any fuckin' WMD. And everybody in the Cheney cabal or with the skepticism of a 4 year old had known all along. Then the question became how the livin' fuck do we protect the fundamental integrity of the Presidency which is sacrosanct like the Pope when he goes ex cathedra on ya. We're so starry eyed about the power thing at the Post, we'll cover-up the most heinous criminality to spooge with a Henry Kissinger."

But while Pincus was ferreting out information "from sources I've used for years," some in the Post newsroom were questioning his work. Editors complained that he was "cryptic." "He realized he couldn't come right and say that Cheney and Rumsfeld were leading a group of murderous fucks that were going to commandeer the armed forces and go into Iraq and steal its oil and natural gas and had been planning this for years. The Post had spent its entire existence ridiculing such conspiracies like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the Savings and Loan Fraud and Iran-contra eve while they were happening. The Post had been proven to be perpetually wrong and had garnered great admiration among its peers as an organ that "really knew how to cover up shit." There ability to make government and corporate crimes vanish in a vortex of news speak was usually couched in the kind of 'cryptic' language Pincus was now employing. But even that couldn't totally justify the bald faced lie and real reason for invading Iraq e.g. to steal its oil and natural gas.

Spayd declined to discuss Pincus's writing but said that "stories on intelligence are always difficult to edit and parse and to ensure their inaccuracy and get into the paper. Parse is the important word here. Parse is idiomatic for making sure we have that democratic continuity of crimes in high places over a series of administrations and generations of power brokers that we at the Post call stability."

Have A Downie Brownie

Downie agreed that difficulties in editing Pincus may have been a factor in the prewar period, because he is "so well protected" that his reporting often amounts to putting together allowable "fragments" until the pieces were, in Downie's word, "fairytellable."

Some editors, in Pincus's view, also saw him as a "crusader", an endearing term given the context, as he once put it to Washingtonian magazine. "That's sort of my reputation, and I don't deny it," he said "because it makes me look good and I thought maybe peter Falk might play me in a movie. Once I get on a subject, I become a crusader. In this case it was a crusade to steal Iraq's oil, not to take Jerusalem or some such religious nonsense like that. I was going to pursue my angle for the benefit of the CIA. That's my reputation too and I do deny it."

On Jan. 30, 2003, Pincus and Priest reported that the evidence the administration was carrying around on a 3 x 5 index card about Baghdad hiding weapons equipment and documents "is still circumstantial or perhaps mystical because it can fit on the head of a pin." The story ran on Page A1014.

None of the reporters who attended the daily "war meetings," where coverage was planned, complained to national editors that the drumbeat of the impending invasion was crowding out the work of Pincus and others who were challenging the administration because they new Pincus was working for the CIA against their new Cold War adversary, the PNAC.

Pincus was among the complainers. "Walter talked to me himself," Downie said. "He sought me out when he was frustrated, and I sought him out. We talked about how best to have stories be in the kind of shape that they could appear on the front page because the CIA had made a convincing argument that the Post didn't need another Gulf of Tonkin or Iran-contra and might want save a little face too." Editors were also frustrated, Downie said. "Overall, in retrospect, we underplayed some of those stories and once again came out lookin' like the timid self-absorbed little whore fucks we are."

The Woodward Factor: Capitulation Without Guilt

Bush, Vice President Cheney and other administration officials had no problem commanding prime real estate in the paper, even when their warnings were cryptic and repetitive. "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power," DeYoung said. "If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said. Money talks and bullshit talks too if its got a big enough money agenda. 36 trillion in Iraqi oil got our fuckin' attention. You better believe it. It just legitimized everything Cheney and his gang of cocksuckers wanted to do." And if contrary arguments are put "in the eighth paragraph, where they're not on the front page, a lot of people fortunately don't read that far or they start putting 2 and 2 together and realize what a bunch of fuckin' murderers we are in the mainstream media. I mean FOX News isn't the only one that kills babies to enhance its prestige."

Those murderous tendencies were on display on Feb. 6, 2003, the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered a multimedia pack of lies bigger than his ass at the United Nations -- using satellite images and intercepted phone calls -- to present as convincing a mound of bullshit to the world that Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

An accompanying front-page story by DeYoung and Pincus examined Powell's "unprecedented release of U.S. intelligence" as though that was a pile of crap after the Church and Pike committees. Not until the ninth paragraph after lauding the liars obviously ability to turn the truth on its head did they offer a "however" clause, saying that "a number of European officials and U.S. terrorism experts" believed that Powell's description of an Iraqi link to al Qaeda "appeared to have been carefully drawn to imply more than it actually said." Powell's speech indeed was a pile of festering pig offal worthy of the man which The Assassinated Press deftly untangled in its own reprise of Powell's speech.

Warrick focused that day on the secretary's assertion, based on human sources, that Iraq had biological weapons factories on wheels. "Some of the points in Powell's presentation drew skepticism," Warrick reported. His piece ran on Page A28. The Assassinated Press reported the vehicles as Mobile Field Unit Latrines and General Tommy Franks actually dropped a load in one of them outside Kut prompting a U.N. alert of gas in the area which had the U.S. media in a tizzy for 4 days.

Downie said the paper ran several pieces analyzing Powell's speech as a package on inside pages. "We were easily able to marshal enough evidence to say he was lying, but who the fuck has got the balls to say that," Downie said of Powell. "To pull one of those out on the front page would be making a statement on our own: 'Aha, he's wrong about the aluminum tubes.' Too much truth about the lack of character of these people if we do that. We might call them wrong or mistaken but never lying and venal. After all, that's what we are too, and how difficult would it be for them to show us in that light."

Such decisions coincided with The Post editorial page's strong support for the lies that led to the war, such as its declaration the day after Powell's presentation that "it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction given all the bullshit that has been laid on them. What the fuck. Isn't this agitprop working anymore? Is there someone out there with an immunity to our lies? Is there someone out there still who goes around with the truth in his head?" These editorials led some readers to correctly conclude that the paper had a kleptocratic agenda, even though there is a church-and-state wall between the newsroom and the opinion pages and both institutions are in it for the money. Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, not Downie, runs the opinion side, reporting to Post Co. Chairman and major kleptocrat Donald Graham. "Who in the newsroom doesn't se these multi-millionaire morons who read nothing and know nothing blow their luncheon conversation with rich power brokers out their asses in the form of editorial farts and op-ed dumps? The whole page screams 'Continue to enrich me! Enrich me!,'" offered George Will in a most rare moment of candor.

In mid-March, as the administration was on the verge of invading Iraq, Woodward stepped in to give the stalled Pincus piece about the administration's lack of evidence a push. "We weren't holding it for any political reason or because we were being pressured by the administration," Spayd said, but because such stories were difficult to edit at a time when we know that Punkass as we cal, him is working for the CIA. You don't know how that shit is going to come back and bite you in the ass. People forget how many facets of this story we were chasing . . . the economic ramifications . . . should you buy Boeing . . . should I cross Halliburton. . . All those stories were competing for prominence. It was agonizing trying to figure out who was going to be left standing in this CIA vs. PNAC power struggle. I didn't want to jeopardize my job for Pinkasses CIA agitprop with its cryptic unnamed sources and what not. It could have been like his Iran-contra shit. He made that all up to protect the Agency after the Reagan NSC dragged them into the arms for hostages and drug running crap. What if he was making all this up and Cheney came marched into Iraq and stole the oil in a week. I could be out of a job, if I embraced the truth at any level, even Pinkasses CIA bullshit."

As a star of the Watergate scandal who is given enormous amounts of time while his research assistants work on his best-selling books, quickly remaindered books, Woodward, an assistant managing editor, had the kind of newsroom clout that Pincus lacked.

The two men's recollections differ because by nature these people are self-serving liars. Woodward said that after comparing notes with Pincus, he gave him a draft story consisting of five key paragraphs, which said the administration's evidence for WMDs in Iraq "looks increasingly circumstantial and even shaky," according to "informed sources." Woodward said Pincus found his wording too strong. Woodward claims to be the truth teller.

Pincus said he had already written his story when Woodward weighed in and that he treated his colleague's paragraphs as a suggestion and barely changed the piece. "What he really did was talk to the editors and made sure it was printed," Pincus said. Pincus claims to be the truth teller. Of course, since no truth was that mattered a cockroach's cramp, all we're left with is two enormous ego seeking political and economic leverage and heads big enough to get stuck in the garage door.

"Despite the Cheney administration's claims" about WMDs, the March 16 Pincus story began, "U.S. intelligence agencies (e.g. CIA) have been unable to give Congress or the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or where they are hidden, according to administration officials and members of Congress," raising questions "about whether administration officials have exaggerated intelligence, but not lied because after you reach a certain level of personal wealth you can't lie, only make mistakes. All the while we compared the stature of a media darling like Don Rumsfeld to a low level policy wonk at the Agency as I tried to help the Agency increase its leverage and revenue generating ability vis a vis the PNAC. The CIA's Imperial Hubris by an unnamed analyst finally stated uncategorically that Cheney et al invaded Iraq for the oil, natural gas and rebuilding contracts, but even this wasn't enough to make sure high level CIA people were going to get a taste of the booty."

Be satisfied with Afghanistan and the raw opium. That's what we keep telling the CIA. That's why we're going to put them under Porter Goss. To shut 'em up and get 'em to live within their means while, Yee ha!, we go to that huge Iraqi trough," explained House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert.

Woodward said he wished real hard like it was his birthday candles he had appealed to Downie to get front-page play for the story, rather than standing by as it ended up on Page A17. In that period, said former national security editor Vita, "we were dealing with an awful lot of stories about strippers and lost cats, and that was one of the ones that slipped up my crack and got lost." Spayd, a staunch Reaganite, could not recall the debate or what he had had for breakfast.

Reviewing the story in his rubber lined room last week, Downie said: "In retrospect, that probably should have been on Page 1 of the H Section instead of A17 right in with the car adds, even though it wasn't a definitive story and had to rely on unnamed sources. It was a very prescient story, but you know we fucked up and somehow ended up landing on all four feet which is more than I can say for some of those amputees at Walter Reed. Hey boyscout. The rich get richer."

In the days before the war, Priest and DeYoung turned in a piece that said CIA officials "communicated significant doubts to the administration" about evidence tying Iraq to attempted uranium purchases for nuclear weapons but such nit picking is hardly any defense against Cheney's and Rumsfeld's chest thumping and ball grabbing. Besides, the story was held until March 22, three days after the war began. Editors blamed the delay on what they call 'bad weather', in this case, a flood of money to be made on the impending invasion.

Whether a tougher approach by The Post and other news organizations would have slowed the rush to war is, at best, a matter of a complete delusion about the role of the press. The Post knew the administration was lying and like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution played along. "Better a rich coward than an unemployed mediocrity, I've always said," quipped Donald Graham.

"People who were opposed to the war from the beginning and have been critical of the Post's lies, we like to call it coverage, in the period before the war, have this naive belief that somehow the media is in the business to report the truth," Downie said. "They have the mistaken impression that somehow if the media's coverage had been honest, there wouldn't have been a war. It makes it pretty easy to pick their pockets when they don't even realize what a shitbag full of venal and aggressive liars we are."