Spruiell e-mails with the subject header, “Good Lord.” Indeed.

They’re calling it a “correction,” but is it really a correction if you’re quoting from an entirely different document than the one you thought you were? And your story kinda sorta hinges on which one it was?

This is a “correction” in the same way Crocodile Dundee’s knife was a knife:

Correction to This Article
A Feb. 9 front-page article about the Pentagon inspector general’s report regarding the office of former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith incorrectly attributed quotations to that report. References to Feith’s office producing “reporting of dubious quality or reliability” and that the office “was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda” were from a report issued by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in Oct. 2004. Similarly, the quotes stating that Feith’s office drew on “both reliable and unreliable reporting” to produce a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq “that was much stronger than that assessed by the IC [Intelligence Community] and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the Administration” were also from Levin’s report. The article also stated that the intelligence provided by Feith’s office supported the political views of senior administration officials, a conclusion that the inspector general’s report did not draw.The two reports employ similar language to characterize the activities of Feith’s office: Levin’s report refers to an “alternative intelligence assessment process” developed in that office, while the inspector general’s report states that the office “developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers.” The inspector general’s report further states that Feith’s briefing to the White House in 2002 “undercuts the Intelligence Community” and “did draw conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence.”

Got that? The big scoop was that the Pentagon itself had concluded that Feith floated bogus intel on the links between Iraq and AQ and suggested that he’d done so at Bush/Cheney’s behest. Except the Pentagon didn’t conclude that. Anti-war Democrat Carl Levin did. The only damning quote from the IG report that doesn’t appear to have been retracted is this:

It stated that the office produced intelligence assessments “inconsistent” with the U.S. intelligence community consensus, calling those actions “inappropriate” because the assessments purported to be “intelligence products” but were far more conclusive than the consensus view…

The policy office, the summary stated, “was inappropriately performing Intelligence Activities . . . that should be performed by the Intelligence Community.”

And yet, per the Times: “According to Congressional officials [who’d read the report], Mr. Feith’s statement and the policy office’s rebuttal, the report concluded that none of the Pentagon’s activities were illegal and that they did not violate Defense Department directives.” In which case … whence the impropriety? He conducted his own investigation and came to a different conclusion than the CIA. Like Captain Ed says, I thought the left liked dissent.

So how’d they blow it so bigtime? Blame Levin. Says the Times:

Working under Douglas J. Feith, who at the time was under secretary of defense for policy, the group “developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and Al Qaeda relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers,” the report concluded. Excerpts were quoted by Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who has long been critical of Mr. Feith and other Pentagon officials.

He must have held a conference call and inadvertently read to them out of his own office’s report, not the IG’s. Sweet, sweet justice for the leakhive.

Spruiell says Chris Matthews was talking about the bogus WaPo article on “Hardball” as though it were accurate as late as 5 p.m. ET. Exit question: How vigorous should we expect news networks’ corrections to be once word gets out? Will they be a knife? Or a knife?