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Bias in the New York Times about the WMD Discovery June 23, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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I wrote yesterday about the media blackout on the WMD discovery in Iraq. The New York Times– supposedly the paper of record– did not cover the WMD discovery on 6/22. Perhaps they needed more time to invent reasons why this isn't news. 

Today the New York Times finally covered the WMD announcement. The article's title implied WMD hadn't been found- "For Diehards, Search for Iraq's W.M.D. Isn't Over."  The NY Times makes a key logic error. They confuse the White House’s previous announcement that the hunt for WMD was over with a concession that WMD did not exist in Iraq at the start of the war (e.g. "Bush lied, people died"). The first line of the article reads:

"The United States government abandoned the search for unconventional weapons in Iraq long ago." 

It continues:

"More than a year after the White House, at considerable political cost, accepted the intelligence agencies' verdict that Mr. Hussein destroyed his stockpiles in the 1990's, these Americans have an unshakable faith that the weapons continue to exist.

The proponents include some members of Congress. Two Republicans, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania held a news conference on Wednesday to announce that, as Mr. Santorum put it, "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

 The New York Times does its best to dismiss the evidence of WMD and to make believers look like kooks:

"American intelligence officials hastily scheduled a background briefing for the news media on Thursday to clarify that. Hoekstra and Mr. Santorum were referring to an Army report that described roughly 500 munitions containing "degraded" mustard or sarin gas, all manufactured before the 1991 gulf war and found scattered through Iraq since 2003.

Such shells had previously been reported and do not change the government conclusion, the officials said."

Really? Why wouldn't this change the government conclusion? The government accepted that "Hussein destroyed his stockpiles in the 1990s," yet a stockpile of WMDs was found in 2003. If Hussein had destroyed his stockpile, those WMDs wouldn't have existed in 2003. The New York Times is careful to call the 500 munitions degraded, but they do not note that these degraded WMDs would be deadly if released in an American city. Nor do they note that Hussein could have sold these munitions to terrorist groups eager to inflict casualties on American civilians. 

Despite evidence to the contrary, The New York Times continues to defend the Duelfer report (my bold and comments inline):

The authoritative postwar weapons intelligence was gathered by the Iraq Survey Group, whose 1,200 members spent more than a year searching suspected chemical, biological and nuclear sites and interviewing Iraqis. 

The final report of the group, by Charles A. Duelfer, special adviser on Iraqi weapons to the C.I.A., concluded that any stockpiles had been destroyed long before the war and that transfers to Syria were "unlikely." (papundit: 500 munitions of mustard and sarin gas were not destroyed before the war.) 

"We did not visit every inch of Iraq," Mr. Duelfer said in an interview. "That would have been impossible. We did not check every rumor that came along." (papundit: It is quite possible that WMDs are still hidden in Iraq- perhaps in those inches not visited by Duelfer.  If these WMDs were to fall into the hands of insurgents or terrorists, it could result in severe casualties. Putting our heads in the sand and denying the existence of WMDs will not protect us.) 

But he said important officials in Mr. Hussein's government, with every incentive to win favor with the Americans by exposing stockpiles, convinced him that the weapons were gone.

Mr. Duelfer said he remained open to new evidence. (papundit: Is the New York Times open to new evidence as well? Time will tell.) 

 

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