Will the 'Times' Take It Lying Down?

White House Calls Paper 'Near Hysterical'

If Plan Colombia isn't a blueprint for military intervention, why the orchestrated denials? Approved by Congress in July, the package allows for the deployment of 500 U.S. military personnel and 300 contract employees, along with U.S. helicopters, airplanes, and ammo (some of the latter dates back to 1952). Technically, this is "training," not "direct intervention"—which is sort of like the distinction between blow jobs and penetration that Clinton used to defend his fling with Monica Lewinsky.

When Clinton lied about sex, the media railed against his deception and called it grounds for impeachment. But when he sanctions a bloody war and calls it "this really beautiful effort," no one blinks. (The quote is from Clinton's remarks to religious leaders on September 14. Clinton recalled how he told everybody in Cartagena "that I didn't want anything out of Colombia except a decent life for the people there, with a way to make a living on honorable circumstances that didn't put drugs into the bodies of American children and children in Europe and Asia and throughout the world.")

Every journalist should be skeptical when a lame duck defends a brutal and expensive military project as good for the natives and for the children of the world. And some are. Narconews.com posts fresh Colombia dispatches every day. On August 24, the AP's Robert Burns raised the potential parallels between Colombia and Vietnam, where the "provision of modest numbers of military advisers led eventually to a massive and costly infusion of combat troops." And in a recent Time article, a guerrilla fighter points out the obvious: "It's inevitable that one of our boys will shoot down one of these helicopters. And when that happens, the U.S. will become more involved."

Plan Colombia is a study in Clinton-speak, and I hope the Times gets on it fast. Trusting administration sources can make you the laughingstock of other journalists—and of presidents with low regard for the truth.

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