The problem with sites like Politifact and FactCheck.org is that they, a little too often, omit certain facts to harm conservatives. They also often misreport economics news as journalists tend to make poor economists.
A mistake that is far more common than political bias throughout the journalism profession is the failure to cross check sources. It is all too easy to fabricate a story relying on press reports from others instead of taking the time to look through source material. Laziness is one of the biggest problems in journalism today. Those who take on the mantle of “Fact Checker” are obligated to step up and do the homework.
In light of the news from the New York Times and Wikileaks showing the evidence that Saddam’s Iraq did have a WMD stockpile and the cleanup from 2004-2011 has resulted in American casualties, we thought it wise to go back and look at some of the elite media reports which said “No WMD”, “Bush lied people died”, etc. .
Q: Were there really weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when the U.S. invaded in 2003?
A: No. The Iraq Survey Group determined that Iraq had abandoned its quest to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and that it had already destroyed all of its existing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
Actually, the Iraq Survey Group Report (ISG) says exactly the opposite and all someone had to do was read the Key Findings right at the beginning of the report to see it.
FactCheck.org propagated a lie by doing one or both of the following:
A - Like several other elite media outlets such as CNN and the Washington Post, FactCheck cherry picked certain lines in the ISG report about parts of certain WMD programs Saddam had not made concerted efforts to restart, and then presented those snippets as if they represented all of Saddam’s WMD capability and intent ti make it look like the ISG verified the Democrat’s talking points. [Note: It is important to remember that CNN admitted to deliberately propagandizing for Saddam in exchange for access.]
B - FactCheck trusted CNN and the Washington Post’s identical deception about the contents of the report, which FactCheck linked to in their published “fact check”, and instead of cross checking for verification they just reworded the spin of others.
Here is what the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) had to say in its Key Findings straight from the report itself. What you see below is on the first page of their final report by ISG Lead Inspector Charles Duelfer:
Saddam Husayn so dominated the Iraqi Regime that its strategic intent was his alone. He wanted to end sanctions while preserving the capability to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when sanctions were lifted.
• Saddam totally dominated the Regime’s strategic decision making. He initiated most of the strategic thinking upon which decisions were made, whether in matters of war and peace (such as invading Kuwait), maintaining WMD as a national strategic goal, or on how Iraq was to position itself in the international community. Loyal dissent was discouraged and constructive variations to the implementation of his wishes on strategic issues were rare. Saddam was the Regime in a strategic sense and his intent became Iraq’s strategic policy.
• Saddam’s primary goal from 1991 to 2003 was to have UN sanctions lifted, while maintaining the security of the Regime. He sought to balance the need to cooperate with UN inspections—to gain support for lifting sanctions—with his intention to preserve Iraq’s intellectual capital for WMD with a minimum of foreign intrusiveness and loss of face. Indeed, this remained the goal to the end of the Regime, as the starting of any WMD program, conspicuous or otherwise, risked undoing the progress achieved in eroding sanctions and jeopardizing a political end to the embargo and international monitoring.
• The introduction of the Oil-For-Food program (OFF) in late 1996 was a key turning point for the Regime. OFF rescued Baghdad’s economy from a terminal decline created by sanctions. The Regime quickly came to see that OFF could be corrupted to acquire foreign exchange both to further undermine sanctions and to provide the means to enhance dual-use infrastructure and potential WMD-related development.
• By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime, both in terms of oil exports and the trade embargo, by the end of 1999.
Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq’s WMD capability—which was essentially destroyed in 1991—after sanctions were removed and Iraq’s economy stabilized, but probably with a different mix of capabilities to that which previously existed. Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability—in an incremental fashion, irrespective of international pressure and the resulting economic risks—but he intended to focus on ballistic missile and tactical chemical warfare (CW) capabilities.
• Iran was the pre-eminent motivator of this policy. All senior level Iraqi officials considered Iran to be Iraq’s principal enemy in the region. The wish to balance Israel and acquire status and influence in the Arab world were also considerations, but secondary.
• Iraq Survey Group (ISG) judges that events in the 1980s and early 1990s shaped Saddam’s belief in the value of WMD. In Saddam’s view, WMD helped to save the Regime multiple times. He believed that during the Iran-Iraq war chemical weapons had halted Iranian ground offensives and that ballistic missile attacks on Tehran had broken its political will. Similarly, during Desert Storm, Saddam believed WMD had deterred Coalition Forces from pressing their attack beyond the goal of freeing Kuwait. WMD had even played a role in crushing the Shi’a revolt in the south following the 1991 cease-fire.
Can it get any more opposite than that?
All Fact Check had to do was actually open up the report and start reading. Or here is a crazy idea, they could have watched ISG Lead Inspector Charles Duelfer’s televised under oath testimony:
And while most elite media such as CNN and Washington Post chose to lie about the contents of the report some news outlets were quite honest in their reporting. A fine example of which was published in the New York Sun:
Saddam Gamed U.N. Oil Scheme in Bid for Arms
WASHINGTON – Saddam Hussein personally approved the distribution of oil vouchers to raise funds for the purchase of weapons material, the final report of the American team of weapons inspectors in Iraq will say this week.
According to internal talking points drafted by the National Security Council and obtained by The New York Sun, chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer has concluded that the Iraqi dictator used a U.N. sanctions program that was aimed at curbing his desire for weapons of mass destruction to buy off countries and individuals to help Iraq weaken the sanctions.
“The report shows U.N. sanctions eroding and increasingly ineffective. Saddam Hussein intended to reconstitute the weapons of mass destruction programs once they were eliminated. The Iraqi ministry of oil with the personal approval of Saddam Hussein used a secret oil voucher distribution system to attempt to influence other nations and individuals to support Iraq’s goals,” the talking points say.
At the same time, Mr. Duelfer concludes that Iraq had significantly dismantled its nuclear program and was not producing chemical weapons at the time the American-led coalition launched the campaign in March 2003 to oust him from power. The report, however, says that Saddam preserved the intellectual capital of his old nuclear program and was only six months away from producing mustard gas.
Mr. Duelfer’s report essentially confirms America’s charge that Saddam was not in compliance with the U.N. resolutions requiring that he disarm, according to the talking points. “At the start of operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein had the capacity to produce sulfur mustard within six months and the capability to produce nerve agents in significant quantities within two years,” the talking points say. It also says that his development of long-range missiles, banned under the 17 sanctions resolutions passed against Iraq between 1991 and 2003, continued unabated.
Even though CNN chose to lie about the contents of the ISG Final Report in its prime time reporting, a simple internet search would have revealed to FactCheck that CNN actually printed the text of the Iraq Survey Group Preliminary Report by David Kay which was also most revealing:
We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN.
With regard to Iraq’s nuclear program, the testimony we have obtained from Iraqi scientists and senior government officials should clear up any doubts about whether Saddam still wanted to obtain nuclear weapons. They have told ISG that Saddam Hussein remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons.
A clandestine network of laboratories and safehouses within the Iraqi Intelligence Service that contained equipment subject to UN monitoring and suitable for continuing CBW research.
New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and continuing work on ricin and aflatoxin were not declared to the UN.
Documents and equipment, hidden in scientists’ homes, that would have been useful in resuming uranium enrichment by centrifuge and electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS).
Was FactCheck simply lazy, failing to check original sources while gleefully jumping on the bandwagon by simply reporting the lies of CNN and Washington Post? Or did they skim the report with a word-search tool looking for keywords and phrases that could be used to go along with the Democratic Party’s false talking points?