Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Old News: Cranking Up The Rhetoric?

CBS News (60 Minutes II) is preparing to air an interview with Greg Thielmann, who directed the office of Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research until September 2002, in which Mr. Thielmann accuses Colin Powell of "misinforming" Americans during his speech at the U.N. last winter. He also is reported to repeat the canard that what Secretary Powell said at the UN was wrong because Iraq didn’t pose an imminent threat. But it is very old news and clear that neither the Secretary nor the Administration argued any such thing. In fact, the Administration's opponents argued that what the critics terms the Bush Administration doctrine of "pre-emptive invasion" did not conform to the "imminent threat" requirement of international law - and the Administration rebutted that argument in, for example, the State of the Union address: Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. ... If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.

That's all also old news.

Mr. Thielmann is entitled to sound off. And he has sounded off - a lot. Way back in June he said what seems to be substantively the same things to CBS News that he's saying to CBS News now. There were his soundbites tossed to Mother Jones. And a Frontline interview. The Now With Bill Moyers interview. And lots more.

So why is CBS News now digging up Mr. Thielmann again for yet another interview - on 60 Minutes II, no less?

It appears that what is "new" about Mr. Thielmann now is his willingness to use more highly charged rhetoric than he did in the past. For example, he seems to now want to suggest that Secretary Powell deliberately misinformed the UN.

But if Mr. Thielmann departs from the tone and suggestiveness of his old comments, the real story is that he is undermining his own credibility across the board.

MORE: From Hoystory.

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