Mar
01
2004

The 'Imminent' Argument

An embarrassing phrase rallies White House defenders

Did the Bush administration portray Iraq as an imminent threat in order to justify an invasion? According to the White House, that's a media hoax. "I think some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent,'" White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters (1/27/04). "Those were not words we used." With this denial, McClellan joined a crowd of conservative pundits who for months have blamed media misrepresentation for the widespread impression that the administration had indeed sold Iraq as an imminent threat. (According to a University of Maryland-based PIPA/Knowledge Networks poll published late last year—11/13/03—"an overwhelming 87 […]

Jan
01
2004

Saddam's 'Bluff'

Failure to find WMDs leads to interesting theories

Once the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq produced nothing but a few false alarms in the media, a new theory was being advanced by some outlets: The idea that Iraq had such weapons was really a well-orchestrated bluff by Saddam Hussein, telling the world false tales about his imaginary weapons. The Los Angeles Times was one outlet that floated this theory. According to its August 28, 2003 report, U.S. officials who relayed false information from defectors about Iraqi weapons may have been “victims of bogus Iraqi defectors who planted disinformation to mislead the West before the war.” […]

Oct
07
2003

Times Corrects Iraq Inspections Myth

In the wake of a FAIR action alert, the New York Times printed the following correction on Saturday, October 4: An article on Wednesday about renewed criticism of the Bush administration for its handling of intelligence before the Iraq war misstated the circumstances under which international weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998. They were withdrawn by the United Nations, not expelled by Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of FAIR activists wrote to the Times after a recent report (9/29/03) repeated as fact a charge by Secretary of State Colin Powell that weapons inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998. According […]

Sep
01
2003

Right Too Soon?

To media, Scott Ritter was "drinking Saddam's Kool-Aid"

Scott Ritter giving a lecture about Iraq--Photo Credit: Common Dreams

Scott Ritter, the former United Nations weapons inspector, spent the last several years telling any­one who would listen that Iraq probably did not possess any significant quantities of banned weapons. We now know that Ritter was most likely correct; U.S. forces occupying Iraq since late March have failed to find any weapons of mass destruction. Iraqi scientists interviewed since the war ended have almost unanimously agreed that all such weapons were destroyed years ago. In late July (7/24/03), former CIA Director John Deutsch told a Senate intelligence panel that it "seems increas­ingly likely" that "after 1991 in the Gulf War, […]

Jul
01
2003

The Great WMD Hunt

The media knew they were there--but where are they?

By the time the war against Iraq began, much of the media had been conditioned to believe, almost as an article of faith, that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was bulging with chemical and biological weapons, despite years of United Nations inspections. Reporters dispensed with the formality of applying modifiers like "alleged" or "suspected" to Iraq's supposed unconventional weapon stocks. Instead, they asked "what precise threat Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction pose to America" (NBC Nightly News, 1/27/03). They wrote matter-of-factly of Washington's plans for a confrontation "over Iraq's banned weapons programs" (Washington Post, 1/27/03). And they referred to debates […]

Jun
01
2003

Depleted Coverage of Uranium Weapons

In the build-up to the war against Iraq, U.S. television spent much time speculating about whether Saddam Hussein might acquire uranium for weapons. But the same outlets showed little curiosity about the U.S. and Britain's actual use of uranium weapons during the war. Many U.S. and British munitions use a dense, toxic metal known as "depleted" uranium as ballast and to destroy armored vehicles. DU is uranium after most of the fissionable isotope has been extracted for use in nuclear weapons and power plants; it's still radioactive, though less so than natural uranium. The U.S. military insists DU is not […]