Friday, February 11, 2005

Thanks to Blue in Kansas for writing in... with this:

The first few lines of the Mickey Kaus theme song are:

"Oh Mickey, You're So Fine, You're So Fine, You Blow My Mind, Hey Mickey! (Beat, Beat) Hey Mickey."

Thanks Blue.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Magazine Editor Pumps Stock in His Own Company, at the Expense of the New York Times

The outgoing CEO of a faltering company, perpetually on the edge of bankruptcy for several years, could expect no more effusive coverage than David Talbot received from David Carr in the New York Times on Thursday:

"David Talbot, a pioneer of online journalism who founded Salon magazine in 1995, will announce today that he is stepping down as the magazine's editor in chief, chief executive and relentless cheerleader. He will be replaced by as editor, he said, by Joan Walsh, his longtime deputy.

"Salon will also announce its first profitable quarter in its history, Mr. Talbot added, a profit of $400,00 on revenues of $2.2 million."

This profitable first quarter, Carr concludes, coupled with "revenues from a combination of subscribers" and "a share of the growing Internet advertising market" indicate that the predictions of Salon's demise have been grossly exaggerated.

Carr concludes: "The future of one of the Web's premier brands that was perpetually in danger of ending up in the recycle bin seems assured."

How accurate is that assessment?

An editor (or perhaps Carr's own common sense) should have said not so fast:

Carr appears to have been snookered. A gifted stylist and hardworking reporter, Carr should have simply reviewed for a few minutes Salon's latest SEC filings, or even Salon's own press release on the P.R. newswire, regarding its new earning report, before filing his story. They were available only a click of the mouse away for Carr (or anyone else for the matter), thanks to the Internet.

In announcing that the company was able to report $400,000 in profits for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2004, the SEC filings also firmly made clear that Salon's first and only profitable quarter was most likely an aberration, and that there was little reason to believe that there was going to be another profitable quarter anytime soon.

Here is exactly what Salon's SEC filing says:

"Salon anticipates a net loss for its [next] quarter ending March 31, 2005 and cannot predict when it will reach net profit in future quarters. Due to seasonality, Salon estimates that total revenues for its quarter ending March 31, 2005 will be $1.3 -$1.4 million, with advertising sales comprising [$600,000 to $700,00] of the total. Salon cannot predict total revenues after March 31. 2005 owing to the relatively short time frame in which advertising orders are secured and when they run on our Website and the lack of significant long-term advertising orders."

In short, the magazine's estimated total revenues will fall from $2.2 million to $1.4 million in the next quarter, with advertising revenues alone falling from $1.3 million to $600,000 to $700,00. The company will almost certainly become even more mired in debt by the next quarter.

Even though Carr's article appeared in the Times' Arts Section, those who appreciate culture also play the stock market. And more than a few readers of the Times probably bought some more stock in Salon as a result.

At the close of the market, before the Times article appeared, Salon's stock was being traded at $.15 a share. By the time the stock market opened the following morning, the stock was trading at $.19 a share, and climbed as high as $.29, before eventually falling to $.22 at the close of the market. In the world of penny stocks, that ordinarily does not count for much. However, that still was an increase of the stock's value of close to 47% in a single day. And at one point during the trading day, Salon's stock actually doubled from its closing price the day before.

The price of the stock would have almost certainly rose substantially solely on its news of its new earnings report and the news of the turnover of management. But many investors rely on the Times for their information regarding a stock's value.

The next quarter's earning report for Salon's stock might also be a difficult for the company because it is required to pay a $100,000 security deposit to rent different offices. In and of itself, that is almost certainly not going to lessen most companies' profit margins for its next quarter. But an added $100,00 expense at a company whose net gains and losses are routinely in the range of the low hundreds of thousands of dollars does make significant difference for a quarterly earnings report. The new lease agreement requiring the $100,000 security deposit was signed on Jan. 13, 2005, not that long after the favorable Dec. 31, 2004 earnings report, but still long enough not to drag down profits for that quarter.

Further, two current employees of the company also told me that editorial costs were purposely kept low during the last quarter to increase that particular quarter's profits, only to be raised back to a normal level virtually the moment the quarter was over. These two people said that new editorial hirings were deferred until after the quarterly report, and that the freelance budget of the magazine had been reduced well below normal during the quarter as well. One of them told me: "We knew we weren't going to have a quarter like this for a long time. This was our one chance to show a profit." One senior staffer told me that an editor of the magazine joked to them: "We figured out a way to just put enough lipstick on this pig," referring to the machinations to inflate profits as much as possible for the one quarter.

Another bad sign for the future profitability of the magazine is that the increase in paid subscriptions to the website- another potential source of income-- has been sluggish in the last year. The number of paid subscribers at the end of this last reported quarter was 89,100, as compared to 73,700 a year ago. As one former editor at the magazine told me: "You cut back the editorial staff. You cut back your budget for your editorial product. You have to do that to show a profit-- even a nominal one. But in the process you do not grow your circulation-- and more importantly grow your circulation with those who will pay for content." This person said the effort to turn a profit for one quarter-- to send a message to the media and potential new investors that it was possible-- was a "gimmick": "You shoot yourself in the leg for the longterm and you pay for it in your next several quarters."

Both David Talbot, and Elizabeth Hambrecht, the recently named CEO of the Salon Media Group, did not respond to inquiries for this post.

CEOs of large companies, of course, inevitably hype their own companies to raise their stock prices. Talbot is no different, although perhaps a bit more zealous than most. As David Carr wrote in his Times piece: "[J]ust because he is stepping down as the editor in chief and chief executive, Mr. Talbot is not relinquishing his pompons."

But journalists who are also CEOs should be held to a higher standard. And in this post-Enron/Worldcom era, there should be even less tolerance for misleading the investing public.

It is one thing to promote your company, but it is quite another thing to purposely mislead one's investors and readers. More than one of Salon's editorial employees has privately complained over the years that they have been asked to promote the company's brand and stock in addition to their editorial duties-- and in a way they did not believe to be honest. They are right that this is not a proper role for journalists.

Being asked to promote your company's stock while knowing it is not as potentially profitable as it appears is not just a mere breach of faith with stockholders. It is a breach of faith with one's readers. Many of Salon's stockholders are also the Internet magazine's loyal readers who have viewed their purchasing of its stock as a means to support its journalism.

In the end, journalists have been asked to mislead their own readers. And they have done so not only at the expense of their readers, but also at the expense to their own editorial integrity. At a minimum, they should require their corporate bosses-- in this case complicated by the fact that their outgoing editor-in-chief was also their CEO-- to tell their readers the absolute truth.

In terms of full disclosure for this post, please see the bottom of my post of two days ago on controversialism.

Another disclosure of potential bias in regards to this post: David Carr had been a personal and professional acquaintance of mine of many years. Among his many acts of generosity towards me, occured when I was stood up by a date at the last minute on New Year's eve; he invited me to spend the evening with him and his family.

An update: An Associated Press article, posted on the Times website last night, provides some perspective regarding Salon's "bright prospects", not contained in Carr's article.

The A.P. dispatch stated: "The company said it expects to post a net loss for the quarter ending March 31, as seasonal factors drop advertising sales to an estimated $600,000 to $700,00."

The article also noted: "Leading up to its earning breakthrough, Salon had lost a total of $91.1 million." Needless to say, the losses will almost certainly continue for some time.
So I am halfway through my week long around-the-clock experiment in blogging:

Apparently, I misspoke (or rather miswrote) earlier when I claimed to have three unique visitors or readers to my blog. A unique visitor or reader is anyone who reads the blog who is not a friend or acquaintance who I have told about the blog.

I have revised my circulation/unique visitor numbers after the following conversation with my friend Rick:

Me: I think I have three readers.

Rick: How do you know?

Me: I have had three different people post comments!

Rick: Ah... um... Is one of them named Ranger?

Me: Yeah. How did you know?

Rick: Um... ahhh... that was me, dude. Sorry.

For the record, I am not running the Tribune Company. I don't want a federal grand jury investigating my circulation numbers, and my advertisers demanding rebates. If my circulation numbers were inflated by a third, it was.... I swear... inadvertent. Anyone who still has an issue regarding this, please direct your queries to my friend, Rick... er, Ranger.

Some other observations about my blogging experiences:

First, I want an editor badly! And I want a copy editor! Both positions are now open.

Second, the medium itself does lend itself to a lack of reflection and incivility. I have reread my own lengthy post on controversialism and am appalled to conclude... that I wonder if I myself haven't sunk into controversialism. If one were to ask Emily Post to blog, even she would turn less than civil in short order.

Third, bloggers are indeed too self referential. For evidence of such, read the above paragraph, as well as this paragraph.

Finally, I have successfully held Richard Leiby off for another day. I had real fears that he was going to mention my blog in the Reliable Source. One goal of this experiment is to see how many people, if anyone, naturally comes to this blog without it having been linked to from somewhere else. So, anyone else, if you feel the necessity of linking to this blog... don't just yet, please. On the other hand, it is somewhat discouraging at time to write this much for just two unique visitors (although I do love you both) .... so if someone out there just must link to me, there is little that I can really do to stop you.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

So, alright already, is this blog a real blog or a parody of blogs? I welcome reader imput, surmises, guesses, and the such. Any reader who guesses correctly wins as a prize a free year long subscription to this--if it is one!-- blog. (The occasional satirical content is a hint-- but there is no rule that blogs can't contain, amongst other things, satirical content. The news items and commentary posted here are also as best that I can do, accurate and fair, and meticulously reported sooo.....)

For any reader who guesses incorrectly, they are required-- rather sentenced.... to read for one full year.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Great and Historic Moments of Controversialism, Part 1!

Oct. 11, 2001: A Day of Controversialism Best Forgotten

Shortly after Sept. 11, Andrew Sullivan decides that such desperate times call for desperate measures, and so he begins to attack the patriotism of various individuals whose views he disagrees with regarding the newly declared war on terrorism. First these rants appear on his own blog. Then they appear on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal.

Among those who stand accused by Sullivan apparently are those of us who live on the East and West Coasts-- although Sullivan himself lives in Washington D.C., which the last time I checked was thought by most to be part of the East Coast. A nest of traitors is all but waiting to welcome the Taliban with open arms, Sullivan warns, foremost among them the "decadent left enclaves of the coasts [that] may well mount a fifth column."

Never mind that all of the fireman and police officers and office workers who lost their lives at the World Trade Center are from the "coasts". Or that all of the servicemen and public servants who lost their lives or limbs or loved one at the Pentagon were from the "coasts". And never mind that every American who died on all three of the hijacked flights was traveling that fateful day from one "decadent" coast to the other.

Sullivan is for the most part ignored at first, perhaps because he is viewed as a crank, but more probably because we have become so inured to all the controversialism that pervades the media. David Talbot, however, takes on Sullivan, after Sullivan names Talbot personally as one of those who he does not believe is patriotic enough in response to the terror attacks. Never mind that Talbot had already been publishing similar diatribes along the same vein by former leftist-controversialist turned rightist-controversialist David Horowitz in the pages of Salon even more inflammatory and reckless claiming than anything written by Sullivan. But now that Talbot has been personally attacked, he now concludes that controversialism is wrong, and with a publicly traded, $70 million URL of his own, he decides Sullivan must be taken on.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so Talbot decides that controversialism must be met by more... controversialism!

Talbot's column itself is a classic case of controversialism, and deserves our analysis.

Since this blog is meant to be, in part, a teaching tool for journalism students, a number of whom themselves may be aspiring controversialists, they should closely study the Sullivan-Talbot exchange. There was once a time when kids spent their parents' hard earned money on tuition for journalism school aspiring to someday be Seymour Hersh, David Halberstam, or Robert Caro. But there is a such a bright future in controversialism! Andrew Sullivan and David Talbot and Joe Conason and Bill O'Reily and Matt Drudge have not only all succeeded in the milieu of controversialism, but thrived financially and professionally in the mainstream media.

Think of Drudge being interviewed on Meet the Press by Tim Russert about Clinton, for one example, or being offered a contract by Disney and ABC to do a syndicated radio show. If controversialism does not have its rewards, then how is it that Sullivan once banned from the pages of the New York Times again now writes cover stories for the Times Book Review? The answer is all about buzz and controversy.

As a result, there is almost certainly more than one kid in J-School today who watches these characters' talking head appearances on cable, lucrative book advances, their constant presence in the gossip columns, and wants to be them someday.

So for those aspiring controversialists, here is an assist!

Let's attempt to deconstruct a single example of controversialist journalism.

Let's start with the headline and sub headline of Talbot's commentary: "Andrew Sullivan's Jihad: Since Sept. 11, the British journalist has declared himself the mullah of the media world, sitting in judgment of American writers' patriotism."

Analysis: Talbot strikes all the right emotional chords: Sullivan's "jihad." He is the "the mullah of the media world." In a single sentence, Talbot has associated Sullivan's name with three entities most people consider deplorable: terrorism (jihad); the Taliban (mullahs), and perhaps the worse of all, the elite media. Indeed, Talbot is so artful in his economy of the language that he combines two of these hated groups in one phrase: "the mullahs of the media world." Effective smear. Effective controversialism. And good writing. Never mind that Talbot has himself lived and died to be part of the very same celebrity media culture with which he attempts to associate Sullivan with.

Talbot's commentary begins this way: "I like and respect journalist Andrew Sullivan, though I often disagree with his opinions."

Analysis: If you are going to engage in adhomenim attacks in an attempt to destroy someone's reputation, it is always best to first make oneself appear reasonable and even handed.

Talbot's next sentence: "I find much of what [Sullivan] has to say about soggy thinking on the let to be a bracing tonic-- which is why Salon has published his views, along with those of David Horowitz, Norah Vincent, Camille Paglia and other conservative or independent critics of lockstep, left-wing thought."

Analysis: Talbot attempts to position himself as a legitimate critic, rather than one from the reflexive left. He too has only disdain for many of the same people Sullivan is writing about, but...

Never mind that the conservative columnists who Talbot names as publishing in his magazine are not mainstream conservatives for the most part, but controversialists like Sullivan. Why are virtually all of the conservative columnists in Salon for the most part controversialists? That is because controversialism draws unique visitors to a website that must explain to stockholders who shelled out $70 million why they are not drawing traffic and making a profit. And never mind that David Horowitz in particular has engaged in similar smears of liberals for not being sufficiently patriotic enough in the pages of Salon for some time that in comparison make anything written by Andrew Sullivan seemingly tame.

Talbot later writes: "Earlier this year, Sullivan was exposed by the gay press for advertising for "bareback" sex (unprotected by condoms) in an AOL chat room and denounced as a hypocrite by his liberal gay critics after attacking President Clinton for his own incautious behavior. Salon was among Sullivan's most vocal defenders, running two pieces that condemned the invasion of his sexual privacy and the political motivations behind his `outing.'"

Analysis: Talbot wants to raise again the disclosures regarding Sullivan's private life to simultaneously inflict pain upon Sullivan one more time and discredit him-- all the while claiming to abhor the conduct by those who outed Sullivan in the first place. In this manner, Talbot can smear Sullivan once again while claiming to take the high road in denouncing those responsible for the original smear. Apparently Talbot hasn't given it much thought, but because of his commentary many of his readers are learning of the allegations regarding Sullivan's private life for the very first time. Or perhaps he did give the matter some thought. (They do not teach the art of controversialism at Columbia Journalism School just yet-- but here it is!-- on the Internet for free!)

Talbot wrote: "Speaking of the `decadent left enclaves on the coasts,' who does Sullivan think fights for his right to enjoy the sexual pleasures of his choosing? His increasingly intolerant rhetoric is an affront to the very culture that protects him. If a right-wing theocracy ever came to power in America, guess who'd be the first person whose ass would be rounded up, self-described `power glutes' and all? And guess which Web journalists would be the first to demand his freedom?"

Analysis: The worst of this passage speaks for itself. I am not sure what "power glutes" are, and am thankful I don't. Please no explanatory comments from those who may know. This is a family blog.

Regarding Talbot's rhetorical question, as to which "Web journalists would be the first to demand [Sullivan's] freedom", the answer is, of course, Talbot! However, in his imaginary world of a U.S. controlled by a Taliban-like theocracy, most of the important journalists-- including Web journalists-- who would question the authority of the state would be jailed too. That is unless they were so marginal that those in power were not paying attention.

It should be noted that not long after the exchange above, Talbot hired Sullivan to publish his blog on Salon.

Talbot claimed that this was evidence of his civility, his ability to reconcile with those who had wronged him, and further proof of his commitment to freedom of speech and his tolerance for diversity of opinion (although Jonathan Broder for one might have good reason to believe otherwise.)

The real reasons that Talbot began running Sullivan's rants, I believe, had to do with the fact that controversialism is profitable for all around. In the short term, it increased traffic to Salon's website, and buzz about a faltering news product. Sullivan was able to reach more readers to engage in the very conduct Talbot had only recently claimed to decry.

That Talbot and Sullivan entered into a partnership shortly after smearing each other's character and stating that they despised everything the other stood for, illustrates the real nature of controversialism. All of the heat and passion is often times nothing more than for show. It is the journalistic equivalent of professional wrestling. (No offense meant to professional wrestlers.)

Those from opposite sides of the political spectrum yelling at each other on Crossfire or The Factor are often only moments later making dinner plans together in the green room. The viewer/reader/unique visitor of a preferred demographic (18-34 yrs. old, a certain amount of disposable income) is the only rube, unless he too has been in on the joke the whole time.

One wants to say to both Sullivan and Talbot what Jon Stewart told Tucker Carlson: "It is not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America... Stop, stop, stop... hurting America."

Has it really come to this? America's foremost fake journalist telling supposedly real journalists to stop faking the practice of journalism?

In the meantime, antics like these by Sullivan and Talbot are a means of practicing journalism without having to endure the burden of actually practicing journalism. It is in fact not journalism at all. But for those of us who have liked to believe that we have belonged to a profession that ascribes to values of some kind-- any kind-- perhaps we should call ourselves something other than journalists.

To his credit, Talbot has been, as David Carr of the New York Times has wrote last night, upon the announcement of Talbot stepping down as Salon's editor, "a pioneer of online journalism." Despite his many forays into controversialism and partisanship, he has been a more than capable editor of innovative cultural coverage, literary and media criticism, and political commentary.

But Talbot's legacy as an online pioneer will almost certainly also be that of a controversialist. His online spat with Andrew Sullivan is only one example. The outing of the personal life of Henry Hyde is yet another. Talbot damaged his editorial credibility not only when he wrote about a consensual extramarital affair by Hyde-- some thirty years in the past-- but more so when he wrote this editorial explaining his decision to publish the story:

"Aren't we fighting fire with fire, descending to the gutter tactics of those we deplore? Frankly, yes. But ugly times call for ugly tactics. When a pack of sanctimonious thugs beats you... upside the head with a tire-iron, you can withdraw to the sideline and meditate, or you can grab it out of their hands and fight back."

Talbot's uses of controversialism, of course, did not end there. Salon later published unsubstantiated allegations that George W. Bush had abused cocaine as a younger man and perhaps had even been arrested for possession of cocaine. The allegations later turned out to be fabricated.

And then finally there was the classic case of Talbot controversialism when he sent writer Dan Savage to Iowa during the 2000 presidential caucases to infiltrate the campaign of Gary Bauer. Ill with the flu, Savage decides it would be just keen to infect Bauer and everyone else associated with Bauer's campaign. When he is at most ill (and presumably his most infectious) Savage says he licked the doornobs, telephones, and coffee cups in Bauer's Des Moines campaign office. But his most proud moment was when Savage handed Bauer a pen that Savage had put in his mouth: "Score! My bodily fluids-- flu bugs and all-- were all over his hands."

Talbot later defended Savage's actions by suggesting that perhaps Savage had fabricated portions of his account, something of which the reader was unaware when it was published, and something Talbot had not claimed in his first defense of Savage. "He later made it clear to me that he was exaggerating." In the end, the story generated just the right enough buzz-- generating an article by Howie Kurtz in the Washington Post and appearances on all the cable shows. In the process, Savage and Talbot were able to accomplish something for Bauer that his campaign advisors and handlers could never do: turn Bauer into a sympathetic character.

Some personal disclosure is perhaps required here: I worked for Talbot and Salon during the impeachment year of 1998. I quietly resigned my position, after, among other things, Talbot told me that he was going to publish the Hyde story. It was not so much the Hyde story that distressed me (although I did strongly believe it was wrong to publish), but the editorial written by Talbot accompanying his story.

(After Talbot sent me a draft of the editorial, I emailed back:

"There is an expression that an eye for an eye eventually blinds everyone. This is not going to elevate the political discourse, but sink it further if you publish this story and editorial...

"If you look back in history, what did in Joe McCarthy was that his adversaries such as Margaret Chase Smith and Edward R. Murrow and Drew Pearson did not sink to the gutter with him, but rather simply spoke the truth and never compromised their own principles."

"Perhaps you should sleep on this for another night...")

Talbot fired my colleague, Jonathan Broder (now an editor with Congressional Quarterly), after Broder publicly questioned the "fairness" and "journalistic" purpose in publishing such a story. At the time I also resigned, but agreed stay on for a short while, and without making my differences public: The magazine was largely insolvent at the time and new investors were hard to come by to keep it afloat, Talbot told me. The simultaneous public resignation of two of his political reporters, he argued, would lead to my friends and colleagues losing their jobs-- so I stayed silent at the time. I am still not sure whether that was the right decision or not, and in retrospect was perhaps naively taken in by his claim that my friends were going to soon be unemployed. But I am free to speak my mind now:

David Talbot was indeed an "pioneer of online journalism". But he also was a prominent practioner and promoter of controversialism. He will be remembered as much for the phrases "ugly times call for ugly tactics" and "licking doornobs" along with all the good that he did for online journalism.

Talbot has privately argued to others that the necessity of the marketplace dictated for him to do so and his medium (the Internet) all but required as much from him. Without stories about the private sexual affairs of politicians some thirty years in the past, an uncivil feud with Andrew Sullivan, or publishing unsubstantiated allegations that the President of the United States used cocaine, the literary criticism of Laura Miller, the media criticism of Eric Boehlert, and the ethereal personal essays of Anne Lamot would never have seen the day of light.

Talbot might be right, but I am hoping that he is wrong. Controversialism has not only been anything other than corrosive to journalism, but also to the society that journalism is purported to serve. And as journalists, not only should not participate in it, we should not defer to those who do.

To the three unique visitors who occasionally read this blog, "Great and Historic Moments of Controversialism" will be a regular feature here.

And this post was updated late on Wednesday night after the New York Times reported that Talbot was stepping down as Salon's editor. A copy of the original post can be found in my archives.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

North Korea Nukes

In matching a New York Times story last week disclosing that "American intelligence agencies and government officials [have] come to conclude with a near certainty that North Korea sold processed uranium to Libya," the Washington Post reported:

"The determination that North Korea provided the uranium hexafluoride was made by a technical group within the Energy Department. It examined containers obtained from Libya-- which gave up its nuclear programs in a deal with the United States and Britain-- and picked up signatures of plutonium produced at Yongbyon, where North Korea has its nuclear facilities...

"`This was not a conclusion reached by the CIA" or the intelligence bureau at the State Department, said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the intelligence matter, "`This was the lab technicians from DOE.'

"He said this gave added credence to the report because it was based not on a murky intelligence assessment but on hard data."

The point that the unnamed administration official was perhaps none too unsubtly trying to make was that the information could be trusted because came from somewhere other than the CIA. The agency's credibility has been so severely damaged that its intelligence can not only no longer be taken on face value, but perhaps not trusted at all.

In the short term, the Bush administration was able to use the CIA's skewed and faulty intelligence to convince Congress to authorize war with Iraq, but over the long term it may very well be a generation or longer before Congress, the international community-- and now apparently regular newspaper readers-- are likely to believe anything the CIA says. The President got his war with Iraq, but the CIA's credibility will be undermined long after George W. Bush leaves the White House.

What the Post account was saying between the lines-- the degree to which the CIA's intelligence are no longer trusted inside and outside government-- is perhaps an important news story in and of itself. Will the CIA's analyses be taken on face value on Capitol Hill? Are they trusted by policymakers anymore? That is an important story begging to be told.

Just how bad has been the damage already done? Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said he does not believe the Senate would have authorized war with Iraq if it knew the CIA intelligence on Iraq was skewed: "We in Congress would not have authorized that war... If we know what we know know." Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Ka.), the chairman of the committee has similarly asserted that had the Senate been provided with accurate intelligence information as to whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, "I doubt that the votes would have been there."

For an account as to how wrong the CIA's intelligence was on Iraq, here is a piece I wrote for the American Prospect. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on its investigation of the CIA's bungling of its intelligence on Iraq can be found here.