Friday, August 26, 2005

Not all whistle-blowers are created equal

I cannot help but note that not all whistle-blowers are equal in the in the eyes of the MSM and the blogosphere. The blockbuster charges of Lt. Col. Shaffer are treated cautiously with a lot of watchful waiting for more evidence. That is as it should be. However, this go slow approach differs sharply from the reception given to three other famous whistle-blowers.

Colleen Rowley ended up on the cover of Time and is trying to parlay that celebrity into a congressional seat. The basis for her fame? A memo she wrote six months after 9-11 castigating FBI headquarters for slowing down the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui in August 2001.

Her indictment of FBI headquarters was accepted as she presented it. There were few demands for corroboration, contemporary accounts, or concrete evidence that the dropped ball mattered. (An exception was Mark Levin whose article makes interesting reading.) Moussaoui's laptop has become part of the conventional wisdom as an unconnected dot that could have prevented 9-11.

The same is true with the Phoenix memo. (See here to gauge the gap between the reality and the myth.)

Finally, we have Joe Wilson. His charges that the President lied in the State of the Union were widely trumpeted in 2003 and still echo more than two years later. If ever a "whistle-blower" deserved some skepticism and demands for corroboration, it was Joe Wilson. (See this from Powerline). For some reason, he was considered a more trustworthy source than Lt. Col. Shaffer.

I'm at a loss to explain why Rowley and the Phoenix memo were deemed creditable but the ABLE DANGER material is considered suspect. To me, they all fall into the "interesting but verify" category. There is one key difference. We know now that Rowley and the Phoenix agents raised vague warnings too late to be actionable. ABLE DANGER is still an open question.

Politics, surely, worked to Joe Wilson's benefit. That best explains why his remaining wild, unsubstantiated charges ("my wife was outed as payback") are accepted even though so many of his statements have been shown to be false, misleading, and self-serving.

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