The Washington Post Owes the World an Apology for This Item

By James Fallows

Read it and weep. On the Post's site Jennifer Rubin first quotes the Weekly Standard, in a rushed item about the Norway horror:

>>We don't know if al Qaeda was directly responsible for today's events, but in all likelihood the attack was launched by part of the jihadist hydra. Prominent jihadists have already claimed online that the attack is payback for Norway's involvement in the war in Afghanistan.<<

Then she goes on to argue on her own:

>>Moreover, there is a specific jihadist connection here: "Just nine days ago, Norwegian authorities filed charges against Mullah Krekar, an infamous al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist who, with help from Osama bin Laden, founded Ansar al Islam - a branch of al Qaeda in northern Iraq - in late 2001."

This is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too expensive to wage a war against jihadists. I spoke to Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute, who has been critical of proposed cuts in defense and of President Obama's Afghanistan withdrawal plan. "There has been a lot of talk over the past few months on how we've got al-Qaeda on the run and, compared with what it once was, it's become a rump organization. But as the attack in Oslo reminds us, there are plenty of al-Qaeda allies still operating. No doubt cutting the head off a snake is important; the problem is, we're dealing with global nest of snakes."<<

No, this is a sobering reminder for those who think it's too tedious to reserve judgment about horrifying events rather than instantly turning them into talking points for pre-conceived views. On a per capita basis, Norway lost twice as many people today as the U.S. did on 9/11. Imagine the political repercussions through the world if double-9/11-scale damage had been done by an al-Qaeda offshoot. The unbelievably sweeping damage is there in either case. For an example of a sober, dignified, shocked but resolute and democratic way to respond to national tragedy, see the moving and impressive speech by Norway's Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, here. (Thanks to M. Fullilove.)

Seven Twenty-four hours after the Post item went up, six twenty-three hours after its claims were shown to be false and hysterical, it's still there, with no correction or apology.

UPDATE: Incredibly, Jennifer Rubin has had time to do four new posts, all about Obama's weaknesses, since last night, but not to do anything whatsoever about her initial "al Qaeda did it" rush to judgment. See for yourselfUPDATE^2: Last night, Rubin finally put up a further post. Again judge for yourself.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/the-washington-post-owes-the-world-an-apology-for-this-item/242400/