Accuracy in Media

Did Fox News go too far in promoting claims that chemical munitions found in Iraq constitute the long-sought evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program? The major liberal media highlighted the fact that the munitions were somewhat degraded and dated from before the first Gulf War. But it’s also true that we still do not have all the evidence in the possession of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte about what has been discovered in Iraq. Only a tiny fragment of information on the Iraq WMD program was declassified and released. 

It has not been made completely clear that what was released by Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra was a memo on chemical munitions recovered in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that is only a half-page in length. That is all that Negroponte would release.

In this context, Rep. Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, is absolutely correct in saying that “there is still a lot we do not know about Iraq.” What’s more, Santorum learned about the memo “from an outside nongovernment source.”  Santorum has been seeking the release of this information since March. 

The issue is not whether Fox News got it wrong in hyping this information but what other information is still out there. What has happened to the “right to know” and “freedom of information?” The media should demand the complete declassification of all of the documents on Iraq’s WMD.

It has taken three years since the invasion for the U.S. Government to start posting some of the documents captured in Iraq. You can find them here.

In terms of the WMD, the big mystery is what took place during the six months between the time that President Bush went to the U.N laying out the case for war against Iraq and when the U.S. actually liberated Iraq. Bush was assured by Clinton holdover CIA Director George Tenet that finding WMD was a “slam dunk” and there are reports that trucks left Iraq with cargo of some kind.

The tragedy is that the U.S. Government may not know, compounding one failure of intelligence with another.

In a June 26 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Santorum and Hoekstra took issue with the Bush Administration’s failure to release more information.

They wrote, “Information is a potent weapon in the current war. Al Qaeda uses the Internet very effectively and uses the media as a terrorist tool. If the American public can be deceived by people who withhold basic information, we risk losing the war at home, even if we win it on the battlefield.”

Does the administration want to win this war or not?

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