Quiz #4: Editorial Analysis
This assignment is graded out of 50 total points, and is worth 10% of your final grade.
Read the two attached editorials, and answer the following four questions with full, grammatical responses.
1. What are the primary claims being made by the two editorials? List the main reasons each offers in support of its claim. (10 pts.)
2. Assess the language of each piece. What examples can you find of “loaded” or heavily connotative language? Highlight these examples—in the editorials themselves—in blue. Then briefly explain how the loaded or connotative language prejudges the issues being argued. (10 pts.)
3. Assess the editorials as arguments against each other. What stases are in play in these two pieces? At what stasis do you believe the real opposition between these two editorials takes place? How might the two editorials engage each other more effectively? At what stases do the editorials make claims or offer reasons that are not addressed by the other? As you answer these questions, cite passages from the two editorials. So that I can reference these citations, insert numbers into the editorials and then highlight the reference numbers in yellow. (20 pts.)
4. Identify at least one instance of fallacious, or at least questionable, reasoning in one of the two editorials. Underline the relevant passage and then highlight it in red. (If you identify more than one instance, number your selections.) Then, in the space below, briefly explain why you feel the selected passage is an example of faulty reasoning. And if it’s a formal fallacy, name it. (10 pts.)
A New 9/11 Debate
By E. J. Dionne Jr., Political Columnist
The Washington Post – Friday, April 9, 2004; Page A19
It is now clear that many, and perhaps most, members of the Sept. 11 commission believe that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could have been prevented if the federal government had acted on information it had in its possession before the planes struck.
This became obvious during the commission's questioning of Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, and that is why her testimony yesterday marked a turning point in the nation's debate over Sept. 11.
Until now, the conventional wisdom held that the Sept. 11 assault was not a foreseeable event and that it would be wrong to hold the administration accountable for failing to stop it. Rice expressed this view when she said: "The United States was effectively blind to what was about to happen to it."
But one Democratic commissioner after another insisted the United States was not blind at all. As early as July, said former senator Robert Kerrey, information was available suggesting that potential terrorists were taking lessons at flight schools. If the FBI had acted on this information, Kerrey said, "this conspiracy would have been rolled up."
Rice regularly referred to mid-level meetings held on terrorism in the White House, but this did not satisfy Kerrey. "You've got to follow up," Kerrey said. "What was your follow-up?" Kerrey concluded that Rice and others in the Bush administration would have more credibility if they simply admitted having "screwed up."
"The FBI is the key here," said Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "Nothing went down the chain to the FBI field offices."
Again and again, the Democratic commissioners asked why Bush did not call high-level meetings in the summer of 2001 on the immediate al Qaeda threat and why he did not push his Cabinet officials to act more aggressively and in tandem, given clear warnings. "You get a greater degree of intensity," said Jamie Gorelick, who served as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, "when it comes from the top."
Richard Ben-Veniste, another Democratic commissioner, asked Rice directly: "Did you tell the president, at any time prior to August 6th, of the existence of al Qaeda cells in the United States?" Rice said she didn't remember.
The administration's persistent refusal to make public the President's Daily Brief from Aug. 6, 2001 -- Rice referred to it repeatedly -- could open up another dangerous political front for the administration.
Rice referred to the presidential briefing as a "historical document" containing "nothing ... that suggested that an attack was coming on New York or Washington, D.C." The Democratic commissioners said it included more specific warnings of dangers coming from Osama bin Laden.
If the administration refuses to declassify the document in full, as the commission has unanimously requested, Bush's critics are certain to argue that the White House does not want the country to know what the president knew 36 days before the attacks. Tom Kean, the chairman of the commission and a Republican, said after the hearing that the memo contained nothing that would compromise U.S. intelligence.
Rice's testimony and the commissioners' comments guarantee that a new debate will be joined in this election year. Even Republican commissioners, notably Fred Fielding, expressed concern over the lack of coordination among federal agencies before Sept. 11. Democrats will focus on specific failures by Bush and administration officials. Republicans will join Rice in arguing that the problems owed to "structural and legal impediments" that prevented cooperation among agencies, particularly the FBI and the CIA.
This large argument will be settled in part by the details. There is, for example, a clear discrepancy between Rice's claim that the FBI's field offices were pressed to investigate an impending threat from al Qaeda and the insistence by FBI officials that they received no such guidance. Such conflicts over the facts keep debates going -- and news stories alive.
The political stakes for the commission were made clear when Mitch McConnell took the Senate floor to express his fear that "the commission has become a political casualty of the electoral hunting season." Liberal interest groups, he said, had "exploited this commission for political gain."
The Kentucky Republican is a tough, shrewd partisan and his attack signaled GOP fears: The very questions that the Bush administration did not want asked about its stewardship on the terror issue before Sept. 11 are now plainly before the public.
The degree to which Republicans are worried over what the commission will conclude can be measured with some precision. The more Republicans pick up McConnell's line of attack, the more certain you can be that the administration has something to worry about.
By George F. Will, Political Columnist
The Washington Post – Friday, April 9, 2004; Page A19
Present events grind the lens through which we view the past. Condoleezza Rice, testifying to the commission examining U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the decade before Sept. 11, addressed the past, particularly the Bush administration's activities in the 233 days prior to the attacks. But her testimony came against the backdrop of the deterioration of conditions in Iraq, which has increased public skepticism about an administration that radically underestimated postwar challenges.
The reception of her testimony was conditioned also by the presence in the hearing room of demonstrative spectators whose applause for certain questions expressed hostility to the Bush administration. The applauders, perhaps including some who applauded Richard Clarke's testimony two weeks ago, evidently believe what Clarke testified that he does not believe: that implementing Clarke's agenda during those 233 days would have prevented the attacks. Rice's testimony also came in the context of Clarke's book. In one crucial particular, her testimony and his book are congruent.
His book announces his recent discovery that the Clinton administration's counterterrorism policies were markedly superior to those of the Bush administration. But that argument is incurably indeterminate -- an argument about adjectives and jargon. Was Clarke right that counterterrorism was an "urgent" matter for the Clinton administration but merely "important" to the Bush administration? Is Vice President Cheney correct that in the Bush administration Clarke was not "in the loop"? Being "in" the loop isn't like being, say, "in" Kentucky.
Clarke, the hero of his own book, also comes off very well in Richard Miniter's "Losing bin Laden." Clarke was an important source for Miniter's book, the subtitle of which is "How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror." Miniter writes: "Through sheer force of will, [Clarke] coordinated an alphabet soup of federal agencies. . . . Imagine what he could have accomplished if Clinton had publicly endorsed his efforts." A melancholy -- and familiar -- refrain: Presidents have failed Clarke.
Miniter, an experienced journalist who makes measured judgments, does not subscribe to Clarke's Clarke-centric understanding of the mechanics of the universe, but Miniter suggests that the appointment of Clarke on May 22, 1998, as the government's first coordinator of the counterterrorism efforts that were dispersed to 40 agencies, "could have been the beginning of the end of al Qaeda. But the lack of presidential leadership, government inertia and bureaucratic squabbling often got in the way. Clarke publicly complained that he had too little power to get the job done."
When, during the Clinton administration, a planned covert operation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden did not occur, Clarke told Miniter that the problem was the CIA and that CIA Director George Tenet's stated reasons sounded as if he were either repeating or anticipating White House objections. The Defense Department also failed to follow Clarke's leadership.
Clarke told Miniter that "I am sure that I saw bin Laden at least three times" in digital video images gathered by unmanned Predator spy drones. But Clarke suspected CIA obstruction and could not get military action. Again, Miniter says, "the Clinton administration was deadlocked."
Clarke pushed for bombing al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan after the attack on the USS Cole, but he says Secretary of Defense William Cohen objected because the attack "was not sufficient provocation." And Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was focused on quelling the new fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, told Clarke that "bombing Muslims wouldn't be helpful at this time."
Stripped of their score-settling over perceived professional slights, Clarke's conflicting versions of 10 years of counterterrorism policy, distilled to their essence, support the essential point of Rice's testimony. It is:
The processes of the federal government, and especially of the many agencies in its national security apparatus, had before Sept. 11 -- and Rice says they still have -- a thickness, a viscosity that are normal aspects of bureaucracies. But in these abnormal times this coagulating river of fudge unacceptably compromises national security.
So Rice's testimony was invaluable pedagogy for a public that thinks it knows what a blunt and cumbersome instrument government is but that doesn't know the half of it. The commission's public hearings give viewers a glimpse of the texture of institutional life within which presidents struggle to process information and defeat institutional inertia. The hearings frame a -- arguably, the -- great question of this election year: Both presidential candidates want to keep America safe, but which one has the attributes -- the world view and sheer orneriness -- needed to stir the fudge and make it flow?
|Due By (Pacific Time)||09/12/2014 12:00 am|
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