Paul Krugman: A culture of cover-ups

Krugman’s pre-election thoughts on the lost munitions at al-Qaqaa, and provides yet more food for thought:

The story of the looted explosives has overshadowed another report that Bush officials tried to suppress – this one about how the Bush administration let Abu Musab al-Zarqawi get away. An article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal confirmed and expanded on an “NBC Nightly News” report from March that asserted that before the Iraq war, administration officials called off a planned attack that might have killed Zarqawi, the terrorist now blamed for much of the mayhem in that country, in his camp.

Citing “military officials,” the original NBC report explained that the failure to go after Zarqawi was based on domestic politics: “The administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq” – a part of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein – “could undermine its case for war against Saddam.” The Journal doesn’t comment on this explanation, but it does say that when NBC reported, correctly, that Zarqawi had been targeted before the war, administration officials denied it.

What other mistakes did the administration make? If partisan appointees like Goss continue to control the intelligence agencies, we may never know.

This isn’t speculation: Goss is already involved in a new cover-up. Last week Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times revealed the existence of a devastating but suppressed report by the CIA’s inspector general on 9/11 intelligence failures. Newsweek has now confirmed the gist of Scheer’s column.

The report, the magazine says, “identifies a host of current and former officials who could be candidates for possible disciplinary procedures.” But although the report was completed in June, Goss has refused to release it to Congress. “Everyone feels it will be better if this hits the fan after the election,” an official told the magazine. Better for whom?

What really happened on 9/11, or in Iraq? Next week’s election may determine whether we ever find out