Friday, December 07, 2007

The Gurwitzification of the Express-News

The editorial the other day in the San Antonio Express-News about the new NIE report on Iran is a perfect example of what I call the Gurwitzification of the San Antonio Express-News editorial page.
That is what has happened lately as columnist Jonathan Gurwitz has become the driving force behind most of the paper’s editorial opinions. Gurwitz’ hawkish neo-con views are clearly evident in this editorial that trys to play down the NIE reports conclusions and glosses over the fact that the Bush administration has been trying to cover the report up for the past year while beating the war drums for a military confrontation with Iran.
Gurwitz is by far the sharpest tool in the E-N’s tool pouch and so it isn’t too surprising that he has managed to steer the listless editorial board his way on most issues, foreign policy in particular. I have long said that Gurwitz is the best columnist the E-N has and he would be a good columnist even if the other columnists at the paper weren’t so worthless. But unfortunately Gurwitz stands especially tall above the pack because the others are so pitiful. Most of the so called “columnists” on the page write the kind of non-controversial pablum that would be more at home in the Lifestyles section than on the Opinion page — Maria Anglin, Gloria Padilla and Kathy Clay-Little fit that bill while Rebeca Chapa, who started out more promisingly, is rapidly heading in that same direction.
For a time, I thought that Chapa might actually be the liberal voice that the paper is so severly lacking, but lately it seems as if she has fallen under Gurwitz’ spell just like the rest of the staff. Her last two columns, bashing leftist leader Hugo Chavez and the fundamentalist mullahs in Saudi Arabia, with only the mildest rebuke directed at President Bush, could have easily been penned by Gurwitz himself.
While Gurwitz is a hardline partisan on most issues, he does have a humanitarian streak which I find admirable that comes through on occasions like when he focues on the crisis in Darfur. I’m guessing Darfur will be one of the next topics that Chapa will tackle under Gurwitz’ tutelage.
But back to the Iran editorial, it trys to cast doubt on the latest NIE report by noting that it differs sharply with the one done in 2005. What they fail to acknowledge is that the intelligence agencies haven’t forgotten about their 2005 report, it is just that they have new information now that clarifies things in the 2005 report that they did not fully understand at the time.
I am not privvy to all the classified information obviously, but this is what I have gleaned from the news articles I have read. Back in 2003-04 sometime they obtained a laptop belonging to some Iraqi scientist that had information about a nuclear weapons programs and made some references to it that they did not fully understand. The person was apparently upset about something but they did n’t know why. What they have learned since then is that the person who owned the laptop was upset because the funding for his program had been cut off when the government shut down the weapons program in 2003. So the 2005 report now makes better sense, although the ultimate conclusion they had drawn has been reversed. And they are more certain about that now than they were in 2005.
Knowing this, it is irresponsible for the E-N to ignorantly cast aspersions on the new report. Moreso, it makes little to no sense to continue hounding Iran about a weapons program that they have not been pursuing for the past four years. If we truly have a stick and carrot approach, it would seem that it is long past due to present the carrot, not bash them over the head with another stick.

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