Tuesday, March 16, 2004


The WaPo really has become like the WSJ - with those who write the editorial page failing to read the rest of the paper. On Spain:

MADRID, March 16 -- In the first frantic hours after coordinated bomb blasts ripped through several packed commuter trains Thursday morning, the government of outgoing Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar undertook an intense campaign to convince the Spanish public and world opinion-makers that the Basque separatist group ETA had carried out the attacks, which killed 201 people and wounded more than 1,500.

Beginning immediately after the blasts, Aznar and other officials telephoned journalists, stressing ETA's responsibility and dismissing speculation that Islamic extremists might be involved. Spanish diplomats pushed a hastily drafted resolution blaming ETA through the U.N. Security Council. At an afternoon news conference, when a reporter suggested the possibility of an al Qaeda connection, the interior minister, Angel Acebes, angrily denounced it as "a miserable attempt to disrupt information and confuse people."

"There is no doubt that ETA is responsible," Acebes said.

Within days, that assertion was in tatters, and with it the reputation and fortunes of the ruling party. Suspicion that the government manipulated information -- blaming ETA in order to divert any possible link between the bombings and Aznar's unpopular support for the war in Iraq -- helped fuel the upset victory of the Socialist Workers' Party in Sunday's elections. By then, Islamic extremists linked to al Qaeda had become the focus of the investigation.

Government officials insist that they never misled the public, and that they released in a timely manner all the information and evidence they had gathered. "We told the truth at all times to the Spanish people," Acebes said on Monday.

In retrospect, however, there were signs that the government was at least selective in releasing information about possible culprits. By 11 a.m. Thursday, police had already discovered an abandoned white van in Alcala de Henares -- a town where the bombed trains passed through -- containing seven detonators and a cassette tape containing verses of the Koran recited in Arabic, officials said later. Sources familiar with Spanish intelligence services said the CNI, the National Intelligence Center, had suspected al Qaeda from the beginning.

Click the link - there's more. It's about time a major American newspaper actually addressed these issues.

And, hey, warbloggers - thanks for pissing on the graves of the dead once again.