LOCAL VOICES: Did editor act on faulty intelligence?

By DON RACE, Fitchville Was it Mark Twain who said something like: If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, and if
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


By DON RACE, Fitchville

Was it Mark Twain who said something like: If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, and if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed?

Although one editorial should not define a person, I think it fair to make certain observations regarding Matt Westerhold, the Sandusky Register's Managing Editor. After reading his Nov. 25 editorial entitled "Bush, Cheney and media lie about war", I'd say Mr. Westerhold is not a registered Republican. I'd venture he is a bit "liberal". I'm guessing he voted for Al Gore and John Kerry in the last two presidential elections - assuming he took the time to vote. But then, I'm just guessing. It's not something I know.

I would think that the Managing Editor of a Newspaper would know the difference between a mistake and a lie. In fact, I'm sure that he does, which as best I can determine, makes much of his editorial a lie. Some people may have believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. Most people did not and still don't. Lying about it will not change that fact. It is true that our Administration and members of Congress (Republicans and Democrats) thought that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was a threat to the United States.

In the 1960s, I worked for RCA, a prime contractor to NSA and other Defense Department security agencies. We were charged with the task of replacing our intelligence capability on the ground with electronic surveillance. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson believed we needed far fewer spies on the ground. Nixon and Ford did not do much to reverse that policy, and Carter basically finished the process. The few spies we have left, not particularly talented people, were in the wrong place most, if not all of the time. That policy led us to where we are now. Most of the time our intelligence community does not know what is going on in the world. But things are getting better. Now they admit it. It will be at least another generation before we can reestablish an intelligence capability on a par with Russia and China - assuming we want to and try. Most of the people in the CIA today were not at the head of their class in our top colleges.

With intelligence, particularly bad intelligence, there are always conflicting reports. Leaders have to make decisions based on what the preponderance of information supports. And now you, Mr. Westerhold with your hindsight, cherry-pick what supports your point of view, the very thing you accuse President Bush of doing.

Using the unfortunate combat death of one of our service people to illustrate your very biased, misinformed opinion is, at best, disgusting. At worst, it feeds the enemy that wants us dead.

Will we ever see my unedited viewpoint in the Register? Probably not.

Don Race

Fitchville, Ohio