Thursday, January 20, 2005

A chronicle of lies

/ bliar / blies /
Given the fact that everyone's given up on ever finding WsMD in Iraq, and given the fact that Tony Blair is the one leader of the Coalition of the Killing mentally fit to stand trial in a war crimes tribunal, I'd like to highlight some not too distant statements made by the British Prime Minister, contained in the above linked BBC summary compiled a few months after the invasion of Iraq. Like:

"Saddam Hussein's regime is despicable, he is developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked.

"(Saddam's) weapons of mass destruction programme is active, detailed and growing. The policy of containment is not working. The weapons of mass destruction programme is not shut down. It is up and running....
...The intelligence picture (the intelligence services) paint is one accumulated over the past four years. It is extensive, detailed and authoritative. "

"If we don't act now, then we will go back to what has happened before and then of course the whole thing begins again and he carries on developing these weapons and these are dangerous weapons, particularly if they fall into the hands of terrorists who we know want to use these weapons if they can get them."

"The biological agents we believe Iraq can produce include anthrax, botulinum, toxin, aflatoxin and ricin. All eventually result in excruciatingly painful death."

"We are asked now seriously to accept that in the last few years-contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence-Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd."

Similar gems can be found in this list of UK statements concerning WsMD, which includes such unforgettable news-story titles as "Iraqi Weapons proof will be found", "Blair unbowed in weapons row", and my favourite quote:

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that those who doubt Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction will have "to eat their words".

Yet even more of a scandal, if possible, is the fact that the final admission that this whole Iraq Freedom nonsense was just that, was pretty much non-news in most of the US media that paraded the claim and thus helped make the case for the war. The attitude and the size of their indifference is captured by this blog's favourite columnist, Matt Taibbi, in his latest article, from which I quote the following:

Descriptions of the story's small stature were usually followed by a similarly quiet mea culpa. They usually read something like this: Now that we know the truth for sure, we media organizations must try to unravel how it "could have happened"—how we failed to see through it all, or "deconstruct all the faulty spin and intelligence," as the Times put it.

Regarding the first point, what could be funnier than the sight of the New York Times calling a story "little noted," when the paper itself only gave the story 3.5 inches on Page A16! Like almost all the rest of the papers in the country, what the Times meant was not "little noted," but little covered. Amazingly, only two major dailies in the entire country—the Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News—even put the official end to the WMD search on the front page. The rest of the country's news organs buried the story deep in the bowels of their news sections, far behind Prince Harry's Nazi suit and the residual tsunami stuff. And then they have the balls to turn around and say this news was "quiet"?

As for the second question—how it could have happened—I have an answer. It is an answer that will not require the convening of a special symposium at the Columbia Journalism School, the commission of a new study by the Brookings Institution, or a poll by Poynter. The answer is this: You lied!

It's really as simple as that. Everyone knew it was bullshit. I defy Bill Keller to stare me in the face and tell me he didn't know the whole Iraq war business was a lie from the start. Whether or not there were actually WMDs in Iraq is a canard; this was essentially unknowable at the time. It was the rest of it that was obviously idiotic, yet even the pointiest heads in the business, like the folks at the Times, swallowed it with a smile.

No comments: