Accuracy in Media

Islamic terrorists will likely sneak across the Mexican border.  There have been no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq.  Osama bin Laden is gravely ill.  These are but a few of the claims that Richard Miniter attacks in his new book, “Disinformation: 22 Media Myths that Undermine the War on Terror.”  The author, an investigative journalist and writer of two New York Times bestsellers, discussed these and other issues during a speech given at the Heritage Foundation. 

For those who favor greater border security with Mexico, the threat of terrorism is a popular argument.  Conservative websites such as WorldNetDaily have written extensively about this subject.  A 2004 book, “Illegals,” attested to the danger of Islamic extremists entering through the southern border.  Richard Miniter argues that there are many valid reasons to secure the vast frontier between Mexico and America, but terrorism isn’t one of them.  He asserts, “There has never been a known Al-Qaeda operative who has been arrested on or near the Mexican border.”  According to Mr. Miniter, Canada is the country to be concerned about.

The author summed up his reasoning with three main points:  First, unlike Mexico, Canada has a large Muslim population.  This makes recruitment easier and allows potential terrorists to conceal their activities.  Miniter described this aspect by observing, “If you’re a terrorist you want to blend in.  You want to be the shark fin hidden among the swimmers.” His second argument revolves around the instructions of recovered Al-Qaeda manuals.  They direct cell members to get on welfare.  This strategy, Miniter attests, makes it easy to devote all energies towards terrorism.  Canada has a very generous welfare program, Mexico does not.  Regarding his third and final claim, the author commented, “I’m not going to argue that the Mexican police are the world’s finest.  However, once they have you in custody, you tend to stay there for a while.”  This, Miniter asserts, is not true with Canada.  He references the case of Ahmed Rassan, the so-called “Millennium bomber.”  In the year 2000 Rassan attempted to blow up Los Angeles Airport on New Years Day.  His plan failed, but it was later learned that the Canadians had previously arrested the bomber several times.  They never held Rassan for more then a day. 

“There is no evidence,” Mr. Miniter intoned, “of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  No evidence.  None.  Zero.  The only problem is that’s not true.”  He then cited a 2004 Department of Energy operation that recovered 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium in Iraq.  Additionally there is the case of a roadside bomb found in Iraq that contained illegal chemicals, including the fatal nerve agent, Sarin.  The author qualifies his comments by proclaiming, “I’m not saying vast stockpiles have been found?I’m not saying there’s a grand central warehouse.  That hasn’t been found.”  However, insisting that no weapons have been found, according to Mr. Miniter, is simply a factual error. 

Media reports regarding Osama bin Laden often depict him as ailing or report that he is on dialysis.  Richard Miniter describes this as “provably false.”  He starts by mentioning that bin Laden has repeatedly denied being in poor health.  There is also the testimony of Osama’s doctor who was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and interrogated by the CIA.  This physician rejects such claims as well.  Mr. Miniter expands on his thesis by claiming all “bin Laden is sick” stories grew out of one 1998 article from a small Pakistani newspaper.  All other subsequent stories emerge from this starting point.  Richard Miniter believes that such claims grew out of a need by Pakistan to pacify America.  The author informs, “Here’s where a little history helps.  On August 7, 1998, in East Africa, two U.S embassies explode within nine minutes of each other.  [This is] one of the deadliest attacks on U.S diplomats in the history of our country.”  Miniter claims that this resulted in the Clinton administration pressuring Pakistan to turn over bin Laden.  So, a story that proclaims Osama is in poor health would be in the mutual interests of both Pakistan and a President that, Miniter alleges, doesn’t really want to deal with the terrorism problem.  “It allows the Clinton administration to have an easy victory without having to do anything,” he announced.  The Pakistanis, including President Musharraf, have since backed off the claims of an ailing bin Laden.  Miniter described the entire situation, as “a classic case of disinformation.”

Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.


Comments are turned off for this article.