This morning featured one of those stories where NPR covers a subject that is very critical of the Bush administration, but then undercuts it significantly by the way it is presented. NPR is covering the release of the Terrorism Index, the third semi-annual survey of foreign policy experts produced by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy. It's not a particularly courageous thing for NPR to do, after all as the creators of the survey note "Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—including more than half in the Executive Branch, 32 percent in the military, and 21 percent in the intelligence community." This is squarely a within-the-establishment critique.
Mary Louise Kelly notes some of the stunning results of the survey: "84% believe the US is not winning the war on terror" and "91% believe the world is becoming more dangerous for Americans." She also points out that "even among the experts who identify themselves as conservative, nearly two thirds say the surge is either having no impact or making things worse." As she says, "That could be read as a pretty stinging indictment of Bush administration policy."
Pretty good so far, but wait...Kelly turns over a significant portion of the report to Aaron Friedberg, who as Kelly tells us, "spent two years as deputy national security adviser to Vice President Cheney." Friedberg says the survey is "not a ringing endorsement...but you always have to ask, 'What would be better and where would we be if we were pursuing policies very much different than those that we have been?' It's possible we would be better off in certain respects, we'd likely be worse off in others..." Whooaa...is there a reporter in the house?
I think Mr. Friedberg just tossed one smack-dab over the plate, and Kelly doesn' even take a swing. I mean seriously, the guy just invited the question...come on. Wouldn't it be great if she asked Friedberg, "So do tell me where would we possibly be that's worse if we had not invaded Iraq, set up Guantanamo, tortured detainees, tried to overthrow Hamas, bungled Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc?" Instead Friedberg's challenge is just allowed to hang there and cast doubt on the whole coverage of the survey that has preceded it. Boy if I were a lying, greedy, sniveling, manipulator working for the Bush administration, I'd just love to get some talk time in with the NPR news team - talk about a cakewalk.