CNN Reporters Skeptical of al Qaeda Intel in Bush Speech

May 23rd, 2007 5:28 PM

Today, President Bush gave an address at the Coast Guard Academy's commencement, in which he revealed specific details about Osama bin Laden's personal involvement in the creation of a terror cell in Iraq that sought to commit terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Yet several hours before the speech, "American Morning" host John Roberts and CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux questioned the timing of the President's speech.

In his first question to Malveaux, Roberts asked, "what's the reason that he's declassifying part of this and trotting it out in his speech? The information is two years old." Malveaux attributed the release to President Bush "using any kind of power that he has to make his case to justify the Iraq war."

Bin Laden and other top al Qaeda officials have expressed their desire to commit terrorist attacks inside the United States on numerous occasions. Malveaux herself admitted that "we have heard this general story before" about the coordination between bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group, "but the specifics we have not heard." Even with all of this, both Roberts and Malveaux expressed more than a healthy amount of skepticism about the recently declassified material and the Bush administration's motives for releasing it.

This skepticism hit its peak towards the end of the segment:

ROBERTS: Now, Suzanne, we've seen this before. As you said, that the president selectively declassifies this information. People are rather skeptical about it because they remember one of the big declassifications was -- which was that national intelligence estimate back in 2002, which didn't turn out so well for the White House.

MALVEAUX: Well, you're absolutely right, because, I mean, it really is an act of faith here. We don't know, viewers don't know, really, the full body of intelligence here. Just a select group of people in the administration know, including the president here. So, yes, critics have pointed out to the fact that, look, you know, the whole thing with weapons of mass destruction, selective declassification, all of it turned out to be wrong. So, you know, we'll have to wait and see on that.

Even though bin Laden and al Qaeda conclusively want to strike America again, and are actively trying to use Iraq as a base of operations to do so, CNN would rather that its viewers dismiss any intelligence that is released by the Bush administration that further drives this point home.