Accuracy in Media

A Washington Post editorial on November 19 endorsed Senate passage of the New START treaty with Russia. On December 27, after the treaty was passed, the Post published an editorial saying that Russia was firmly under the control of former KGB officer Vladimir Putin, the former president who is now Prime Minister, and that the Russian regime could not be counted on to live up to international standards.

Wouldn’t it have been nice for the Post to have told its readers this fact before the treaty was passed?

The Post’s disgust with Putin and his puppet, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, stemmed from the conviction of Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky on trumped-up charges of corruption. The Post was happy that the Obama White House had issued a statement about the injustice, noting that “Russia’s failure to keep this commitment to universal values, including the rule of law, impedes its own modernization and ability to deepen its ties with the United States.”

Khodorkovsky was considered a potential political rival of Putin but is now facing years in a Siberian prison camp.

If Russia cannot be counted on to strengthen the rule of law, how can it be trusted to live up to New START?

The claim was frequently made by proponents of the treaty that it contained on-site verification of Russian nuclear forces. But the Heritage Foundation noted that “New START’s verification provisions would provide little or no help in detecting illegal activity at locations the Russians did not declare, are off-limits to U.S. inspectors, or are hidden from U.S. satellites. Inspectors would only inspect declared sites—and they would never find anything the Russians successfully hide from view. In a country as large as Russia, it is not inconceivable that huge numbers of missiles and warheads could be hidden.”

The Post editorial on the railroading of the Russian businessman asked, “Will Vladimir Putin pay a price for his persecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky?” It suggested delaying Russian admittance to the World Trade Organization.

However, thanks to the Post and Senate liberals and some Republicans, Putin already got what he really wanted—a treaty that in the preamble appears to restrict the building of a U.S. anti-missile defense shield by declaring an “interrelationship” between nuclear weapons and missile defense. Obama sent the Senate a letter, in order to secure passage of the treaty, claiming that New START “places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs.”

Obama’s letter carries no legal weight since it is not part of the treaty. But can Obama be trusted to confront Putin?

The Post published an editorial on December 25 complaining that the Obama Administration was being too soft in its treatment of Nicaragua, now under the control of communist Daniel Ortega. The paper said the White House seemed not to be concerned about Nicaragua’s drift toward dictatorship and its blatant aggression in seizing a Costa Rican island.

So if Obama can’t stand up for freedom in Nicaragua and Costa Rica’s territorial integrity, how can he be expected to confront Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime over violations of New START?

The Post editorial staff have become a laughingstock of confusing, incoherent, and inconsistent editorials.

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