WaPo Puts War-Justifying Words in Saddam’s Mouth

Media blogger Eli Stephens (left i on the news, 7/2/09) has posted on a Washington Post lede claiming that “Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran.” Stephens explains how, as “one of the major pieces of ‘evidence’ used to justify the invasion of Iraq at the time,” this “repetition now, from the mouth of Saddam Hussein no less, would be an important post-facto justification for the invasion.” There’s just one problem:

The claim itself was bullshit at the time. The truth, as I wrote at the time, was that while Gen. Colin Powell was at the U.N. lying through his teeth (or spouting lies put in his mouth by others, if you prefer to be generous to Powell) about the “evidence” the U.S. had, Iraqi Gen. Amer Al-Saadi (still imprisoned, as far as we know) was saying clearly and quite publicly that Iraq had no WMD whatsoever. That’s one funny way to “allow the world to believe that you have WMD.”

And, guess what? No such statement from Saddam Hussein appears in the interviews, which are all online at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The interviews aren’t even transcripts, they are all simply summaries of the conversations made by an FBI agent, with only a tiny amount of direct quotations embedded within them. But even in those summaries, no such claim appears.

Having “twice” read “every word of the five ‘casual conversations'” the Post says Hussein’s comments are drawn from, Stephens is compelled to “repeat–no such claim by Saddam Hussein appears (nor does it appear in the summary of the documents prepared by the NSA)–that is entirely a fiction created by the Post.” Read the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Saddam’s ‘Secret’: Hussein Told CBS About WMDs–but CBS Wasn’t Watching” (3â┚¬“4/08) by Seth Ackerman.