Accuracy in Media

On July 25, the Democratic National Committee, the DNC, placed a full-page ad in the New York Times with this message above a photo of President Bush delivering his State of the Union Address: “America took President Bush at his word. ‘…Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.‘ But now we find out that it wasn’t true. The CIA knew it. The State Department knew it. But he said it anyway. It’s time to tell the truth.”

The DNC omitted six key words. What Bush said was, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The British government maintained then and still maintains that it had reliable information from sources that it could not share with us that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa. Years ago, the Times checked ads for accuracy and insisted that any inaccuracies be corrected. Accuracy in Media has occasionally had to defend the accuracy of our ads and make changes to satisfy the Times. A spokesman for the Times ad department said they were now more lax, but that inaccurate statements that “beat up on people” should not be approved. That didn’t apply to the President. The DNC was allowed to accuse him of lying even though they had no proof that what he said was false.

The DNC is sending out e-mail that conveys a message similar to that in the New York Times ad, but it omits the three dots that represent the omission of the attribution to the British government. We thought that the Times had at least insisted on the three dots in the ad, but it turns out that they were in the copy submitted by the Democrats.

The claim that Bush’s statement is false is based on the fact that there is a forgery relating to an alleged Iraqi approach to Niger for uranium. This does not prove that there was no approach to Niger or another African country. Herb Romerstein, an expert on Soviet disinformation, says, “The crude forgeries were designed to be exposed to discredit the truth about Saddam’s nuclear program.” He says the Iraqi intelligence service learned this trick from the Soviet KGB. The forgery trick was used to discredit the London Telegraph’s discovery of documents in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry building that revealed that George Galloway, an ultra-left Labor member of the British Parliament, had been on Saddam’s payroll big time.

Soon after, the Christian Science Monitor obtained documents confirming this, but they turned out to be forgeries, and the Monitor had to apologize. Romerstein says, “Mr. Galloway and his friends are now using the exposure of the Christian Science Monitor forgeries to try to discredit the authentic London Telegraph documents.”

The Democratic National Committee apparently didn’t clear its ad with Bill Clinton. He told Larry King the Democrats should quit harping on this matter. His advice evoked favorable comment from some Democrats on Capitol Hill, but he apparently didn’t clear it with Hillary. She repeated her call for an independent investigation of the matter.

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