WaPo Farms Out 10th Anniversary USS Cole Coverage, Omits Anger Over Obama Handling of Case

Ten years after the USS Cole bombing, the alleged mastermind of the attacks hasn't been tried in a military commission, angering survivors and families of the dead.

Yet for its coverage of the 10 year anniversary memorial service in today's paper, the Washington Post elected to go with an 11-paragraph article by Newport News [Va.] Daily Press's Hugh Lessig rather than assign a Post staffer to the story.

Here's how Lessig opened his story:

NORFOLK - Norm Larson, who survived the attack on the USS Cole 10 years ago, cried openly Tuesday as his right arm snapped up in salute. Moments later, he was smiling with friends.


It was that kind of day at Naval Station Norfolk.

Lessig failed to find anyone angered about 10 years having passed without the alleged mastermind of the attacks having been brought to justice.

Politico's Josh Gerstein, on the other hand, did, filing a story yesterday evening entitled "USS Cole attack survivors angry at Obama":  

The 10th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole on Tuesday conjured up painful memories for the families of the 17 Navy sailors who died in the terrorist attack, but it also revealed simmering anger at the Obama administration over the lack of concrete progress in bringing an alleged perpetrator to justice.


In February 2009, less than three weeks after his inauguration, President Barack Obama held an emotional meeting with family members of victims of the Cole bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Families said the new president promised swift action yet pleaded for their patience so his aides and Congress could overhaul the military commission system – which federal courts twice invalidated during the Bush administration.


Yet 20 months later, there are few signs the case against Saudi-born Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri – the alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing who was captured in 2003 – has moved forward.


Last November, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the case would be sent for trial to a newly constituted military commission. Nearly a year has passed since then, with no new charges against Al-Nashiri and no official word when – or if – any might be forthcoming.


“Nothing has moved. There has been talk about the military commission…nothing appears to be happening because of politics, not because there are legal considerations holding it up within the court system,” said Kirk Lippold, who was commander of the Cole when suicide bombers in an explosive-laden boat struck it during a refueling stop in Yemen. “That frustrates people more than anything else.”


“At the time, we felt the president was being real positive about it,” John Clodfelter, who attended last February’s White House meeting, told POLITICO Tuesday. His son, Kenneth, 21, was among the sailors killed in the Cole attack a decade ago. “The president told us he wanted to figure out what was supposed to be done versus what was actually being done.”


In the months since, the elder Clodfelter’s good feeling toward Obama and his team has evaporated. 

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