Mar
01
2008

WMD Mirages

The mainstream media’s certainty that unconventional weapons would be found in Iraq led them to issue an embarrassing series of false alarms

Colin Powell at the UN.

Colin Powell at the UN.

“In our view, President Bush has built a strong case for the invasion of Iraq, a case that will be overwhelming with the inevitable discovery of the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein is hiding.”

Oregonian editorial (3/20/03)

“HUGE CHEMICAL WEAPONS FACTORY FOUND IN SO IRAQ. . . . REPORTS: 30 IRAQIS SURRENDER AT CHEM WEAPONS PLANT. . . . COAL TROOPS HOLDING IRAQI IN CHARGE OF CHEM WEAPONS.”

Fox News Channel (3/23/03)

“One important new discovery: U.S. officials say, up the road from Nasarijah, in a town called Najaf, they believe that they have captured a chemical weapons plant and, perhaps more important, the commanding general of that facility. One U.S. official said he is a potential ‘gold mine’ about the weapons Saddam Hussein says he doesn’t have.”

ABC’s John McWethy (3/23/03)

“Word tonight that U.S. forces may have found what U.N. inspectors spent months searching for, a facility suspected to be a chemical weapons plant, uncovered by ground troops on the way north to Baghdad.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw (3/23/03)

“The first solid confirmed existence of chemical weapons by the Iraqi army. . . . 20 BM-21 medium-range rockets with warheads containing sarin nerve and mustard gas. . . . would vindicate the administration’s claims that the Iraqis had chemicals all along.”

—Embedded NPR reporter John Burnett (4/7/03)

“We’re discovering WMDs all over Iraq. . . . You know it killed NPR to report that the 101st Airborne found a stockpile of up to 20 rockets tipped with sarin and mustard gas. . . . Our troops have found dozens of barrels of chemicals in an agricultural facility 30 miles northwest of Baghdad.”

—Rush Limbaugh (4/22/03)

“Weapons-Grade Plutonium Possibly Found at Iraqi Nuke Complex.”

Fox News (4/11/03)

“Under the terms of her accreditation to report on the activities of MET Alpha, this reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to write about the discovery of the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by military officials. . . . [Although Miller] could not interview the scientist, she was permitted to see him from a distance at the sites where he said that material from the arms program was buried. . . . Clad in nondescript clothes and a baseball cap, he pointed to several spots in the sand where he said chemical precursors and other weapons material were buried.”

New York Times reporter Judith Miller (“Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert,” 4/21/03). As Miller would later report (7/20/03), the “scientist” turned out to be an Iraqi military intelligence officer.

“It’s also important to note that reporter Judith Miller of the New York Times does believe the weapons are there. She spelled out the weapons yesterday.”

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (4/22/03)

“Personally, I don’t much care if the U.S. reports about weapons of mass destruction prove to be imaginary. Toppling Hussein’s regime was still right.”

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (4/25/03)

“U.S. troops discover chemical agents, missiles and what could be a mobile laboratory in Iraq.”

ABC World News Tonight “exclusive” report (4/26/03)

“As far as I’m concerned, we do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. . . . Mr. Bush doesn’t owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons (even if it turns out that the White House hyped this issue).”—New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (4/27/03)