Accuracy in Media

In the U.S., the big news about Iraq has been that U.S. weapons inspector David Kay says he hasn’t found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The President relied on intelligence that turns out to have been seriously deficient. In Britain, meanwhile, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, has issued an apology to Prime Minister Tony Blair for claiming that he manipulated intelligence to get Britain into the war. That followed the release of a report on the matter by Lord Hutton, Britain’s most distinguished law lord. So the question is: do news organizations here-or some of the Democrats running for president-owe Bush an apology?

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman simply doesn’t accept David Kay’s explanation that it was an intelligence failure. “I don’t buy it,” says Krugman. He also doesn’t accept the Hutton report, saying that “many people” regard that as a whitewash. Krugman is a liberal partisan who doesn’t want to admit the Bush critics were wrong. By implication, the Hutton Report partly exonerates Bush. After all, Bush had cited British intelligence in his own State of the Union address.

In an editorial, the Times said that Blair had been vindicated. It said the Hutton Report had “fully exonerated his administration, refuting charges that it knowingly manipulated intelligence about Iraqi weapons?” But what does this have to do with Bush?

Type in the words “Bush lied” and “Iraq” in the Google search engine and you will find 175,000 references. David Corn of The Nation magazine even wrote a book, The Lies of George W. Bush. On his website, he lists the alleged “top ten lies” of Bush, including the following Bush statement, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” But there’s no evidence that was a lie. Rather, it was based on the available intelligence. The fact that Bush didn’t lie doesn’t get him off the hook, however. He should have reformed the intelligence agencies a long time ago. What’s more, there’s still a distinct possibility that the WMD could still turn up, either in Iraq or perhaps Syria.

Corn also claims that Bush lied when he claimed that Saddam was “a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda.” But that’s not a lie. Raw intelligence reports obtained and publicized by The Weekly Standard showed meetings between Saddam’s government and al Qaeda going back many years. Vice President Cheney called the article the “best source of information” on links between the former Iraqi regime and al Qaeda.

General Wesley Clark responded by demanding an investigation into whether Cheney violated national security laws by confirming the contents of the article. So the Democrats want to have it both ways. They want to criticize the administration for allegedly distorting or failing to acquire the evidence it needed to go to war, and when the administration cites some of the evidence in a magazine story, that is somehow considered harmful to national security and shouldn’t be discussed. So they want the truth kept hidden.

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