I did promise a more conservative post to balance the ones I wrote praising Clinton and Gore. Mind you, I wouldn’t say this exactly praises the President, but brings something he said into question.
The road to Iraq
A few years ago—it would have been 2002 or 2003 now—I wrote to Charlotte Beers, charged with trying to win the hearts and minds of people about President Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq. I wasn’t too impressed with his speeches, and advised that Tony Blair’s route—concentrating on matters of international law, speciﬁcally UN Security Council resolution 1441—would be levelling with the American people more.
The President took that tack last week at a press conference at the White House, so I felt some pride that mine was the eventual position he took.
I suppose it was inevitable that the President did not take that position initially. Telling Americans that they were going to war based on a UN resolution would seem that the US was placing international obligations before domestic ones. But having studied international law, and with no “side” being taken (frankly, I ﬁnd many arguments on both sides of Congress and the Senate a bit daft), I thought there could be an argument over the legality of enforcing the resolution. Leaving totally aside the question of karma and the sanctity of life. And since I don’t normally leave those questions aside, you now know why I do not practise law despite my qualiﬁcations.
What is interesting, given this eventual recognition of resolution 1441, is a piece that I found today while surﬁng. I was surprised to see it missed by both the liberal and conservative blogs, though less surprised to see it missed by the mainstream media (at least the MSM here). I thought one mob would damn it and the other mob would praise it. But then, even the President did not mention it.
You’ll have to bear with my ignorance about the source, and also bear in mind that regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House, it makes little difference to little ol’ me in New Zealand. I am on record as saying I am Confucian, which I imagine in western terms could be labelled centrist libertarian. (Translation: I sit in the middle and wish both groups of politicians would bugger off. It’s time for democratic reform.)
The found article
The source is Investor’s Business Daily, and the headline, dated February 24, is ‘Saddam Had WMD’ (referred by Nanochurch Life & Spirituality). Three paragraphs are probably the most critical to this post:
Inconveniently for critics of the war, Saddam made tapes in his version of the Oval Ofﬁce. These tapes landed in the hands of American intelligence and were recently aired publicly.
The ﬁrst 12 hours of the tapes—there are hundreds more waiting to be translated—are damning, to say the least. They show conclusively that Bush didn’t lie when he cited Saddam’s WMD plans as one of the big reasons for taking the dictator out.
Nobody disputes the tapes’ authenticity. On them, Saddam talks openly of programs involving biological, chemical and, yes, nuclear weapons.
I know how politicized things get in the United States, so I won’t make any assumptions on this piece. Maybe IBD is a conservative source and this is part of a conspiracy. Or maybe there is a liberal-media cover-up. Who knows?
But since it has been carried on Yahoo!, which generally selects pretty good news sources, I would have expected a bit of debate, if not a ‘Bush was right’ cry.
I would also have expected the President himself to gleefully proclaim, ‘I told you so,’ last week. But he didn’t.
Searching on Google, there are a lot of results to the search, “Saddam had WMD”, admittedly from conservative news sources.
My personal position has been that the WMDs must have existed unless every single intelligence agency (including ours in New Zealand) in the world erred. And, may I now add that they could have existed unless Saddam Hussein erred?
Whether that’s a reason to go to, or continue in, Iraq is not what I am addressing here. I am simply curious to know how the mainstream news media work.
Since I am in the media, though not in international politics, I would have seized upon this story to create some debate. Even if I was a greedy capitalist wanting more sales, I would have done that. I would expect a journalistic duty to at least talk about these tapes and see how real they are. It would be worthwhile on both sides—and even strengthen arguments for all.
But the silence has been noticeable. I never heard a peep Down Under.
Ted Koppel believes it
After some research, I understand that Nightline (the ABC one, not the TV3 one here) had aired the tapes partially, and The Washington Times also mentioned them. So that is one liberal and one conservative source. Never heard Fox News mention it.
The news has not been carried forth much.
At Dragonﬁre, Alex Koppelman advances a unique theory: that conservatives are responsible for covering up this information.
Mr Koppelman cites quotations that shed doubt on one John Loftus, who organized a gathering called ‘The Intelligence Summit’ where the tapes were the central focus.
Mr Koppelman ultimately does not judge whether the tapes are genuine or not, either.
I tend to believe they are more likely genuine, if a usually anti-Bush source such as ABC-TV would air them. But it still brings me back to the same point: why such a limited exposure?
Conspiracy may well be the reason, but I would have hoped for something more logical. That other news stories were more important (in which case I could have attacked the media for making bad judgement calls), or that it was old news (again, not a great excuse).
Regardless of whom is behind the story not getting more air time, I can’t guess a reason. How about a bit of dialogue between American conservative and liberal bloggers—all civilized, of course—so we can get to the bottom of this? Was President Bush right? Or was our Prime Minister, taking an anti-war stance, the sensible one?
Del.icio.us tags: WMD | Saddam Hussein | Iraq | Iraq war | war on terror | anti-war | George W. Bush | USA | politics | conspiracy | liberal media | mainstream media | conservative | bias | MSM | anti-Bush | media | news Posted by Jack Yan, 02:56
A quick search on Google for Saddam Tapes shows the story has had a lot of coverage. I suspect the reason it hasn't become a major story is because the tapes released so far are quite old - from the mid-90s. Plus there's this...
A spokeswoman for John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, said information contained in the transcriptions of the tapes was already known to intelligence officials. "Intelligence community analysts from the CIA, and the DIA reviewed the translations and found that, while fascinating, from a historical perspective the tapes do not reveal anything that changes their post-war analysis of Iraq's weapons programs nor do they change the findings contained in the comprehensive Iraq Survey group report," she said in a statement. Taken from here...
You're right that NZ TV news sucks, but then that's the nature of TV. It's great for giving us an impression of what our politicians are like (it's greatest strength) and for plucking at the heart-strings, but it's hopeless at indepth analysis or covering a wide range of topics. The latter is what the net's for.
By the way, you might like to read this post on Americans and the war in Iraq from a photographer whose family is from Vietnam.
Thanks, Carl. Very interesting—and I think your guess is right. Not many folks want to hear about old tapes.
I generally think our journos don’t do much digging. There are exceptions, of course, but not enough. Plus most are so overworked (intentionally?) that they usually lack the energy to hunt down a major, juicy story, so they wind up being a mouthpiece for PR departments.
I’ll deﬁnitely follow your links—thank you for sharing them.
Carl, the photographer’s web page is bloody good. And that’s why I said my analysis of 1441 was legalistic and didn’t include the karmic—or, to be accurate, humane—aspects. (It also doesn’t include an analysis of whether Congress needed to authorize military action under the US Constitution …)
The truth is that the tapes don't really reveal very much that's completely new, certainly nothing that can be construed as a 'smoking WMD gun'. The two main characters in the reading of the documents are Bill Tierney and Ray Robison, both men having previously worked for the ISG, having been involved in the translation and cataloguing of the released material subsequent to its earlier discovery. Unfortunately both men display right-wing attitudes and credentials insofar as they seek to debunk the 'Bush lied' approach that has been variously ascribed as having come directly from the anti-war left. Both men have added obvious conjecture and speculation into their analysis of the documents, areas of reporting that the main stream media normally stays well away from. For this reason only the alternative media sitting on the right side of the fence have been supportive of the claims being made, something they may in fact be proven to be wrong about.
# posted by Simple Simon: 3/27/2006 02:14:00 PM
Simon, what you just wrote makes inﬁnitely more sense than the stuff I had found online. It doesn’t help either side when they inject their biases in. A little I can tolerate, but so much of it is geared toward attacking the other side it makes me suspect. Ah, no wonder journalists (on either the right or the left) have not picked this up, if the gentlemen are injecting conjecture as you describe: I would certainly stand well away from it, too, in their shoes.Post a Comment
Why the extreme ends of either side can’t behave more normally and allow their arguments to be heard, I do not know—they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Links to this post:
NoteEntries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.
Get this blog via email
Individual JY&A and Medinge Group blogs
+ Add The Persuader Blog to your Blogroll
DonateIf you wish to help with my hosting costs, please feel free to donate.
Copyright ©200210 by Jack Yan & Associates. All rights reserved. Photograph of Jack Yan by Chelfyn Baxter.