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Safire on Sarin

William Safire had an excellent piece in yesterdays NY Times about the media’s downplaying of the discovery of Sarin gas in Iraq. As he points out, the story was buried on p. 10 of USA Today, and I am told that at the press conference in Baghdad, not a single U.S. reporter chose to ask a question about the find. Admittedly, this was also the day that Izzadin Salim was assassinated, but after all the grousing I have heard in the press room about the lack of any WMDs, this was a discovery that certainly merited a couple of questions. Anyone who doubts this needs only to talk to a soldier. The universal response on the base was "this changes everything." Their statement was not one of justifications for the war in Iraq, but one directed at safety. If the terrorists are using WMDs in IEDs, then the level of precaution must change. Uparmored Humvees may provide adequate protection against explosives, but they are not hermetically sealed. And despite the fact that the soldiers did not intend to make a point about justification for war, and despite the fact that I have long said that the war was not exclusively about WMDs, the fact remains that with this discovery, a WMD has been found in Iraq. It is simply no longer accurate to say that there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Discussions - 13 Comments

After the previous claims of discoveries of WMDs in Iraq that proved to be erroneous, why should this be presumed by the press to be different? It was even "pooh-poohed" by our command in Iraq and by Rumsfeld. Something to note is that no one was harmed by this alleged toxin. I’ll wait for definitive proof, thank you.

Rick Derrig

So basically, what Alt and Safire are saying is that because most media outlets (save FOX news, of course) didn’t jump to a bunch of unsubstantiated conclusions about the sarin gas, they are somehow biased.

I love it.

There’s a lot of evidence Saddam was still pursing weapons of mass destruction. As far as chemical weapons go, as many people have noted, pesticides are basically nerve gas, so whether you call it pesticide or nerve gas depends on your politics.

I suppose the 20 tons of chemicals that terrorists planned to use in Jordan just appeared from nowhere.

Why am I not surprised that the Conservative WMD argument has denegrated to the point that they are now trying to claim that pesticides are evidence of Saddam’s WMD program. What’s next, Tony? Windex?

It is possible to question whether the account is accurate without burying the story. The Boston Globe and many papers rushed stories to the front page with pictures of soldiers raping Iraqis without checking to find out they were forgeries. Is it too much to expect the media to say that the military has claimed that they have found WMD? Do you really think that the discovery of WMD would be 10th page news? Yes, the failure to report the story, even with caveats is bias.

Mr Alt,
No, it isn’t bias. I think you’ll find that it will be front page and lead story material IF it is verified as actually being sarin. I find it a bit incredulous for a claim of "a gallon" of sarin being in that shell (as Joe Scarborough claimed) with absolutely no one being harmed. The fact is that the allegations of media bias, "the elitist media" as the right has dubbed them, is simply a way for the right wingers to dismiss any news that doesn’t promote their agenda. Hopefully, most people will judge on the FACTS, not prejudge due to the propagandist labeling by the right...


You totally miss the point. The media has been putting stories on the front page that are not verified that meet their agenda. Why all of a sudden do they need verification on this one? Because it doesn’t meet their agenda. I think that if someone even thinks that they’ve found WMD’s that should be front page news. Aren’t WMD’s what everyone keeps arguing about? So it is a big deal whether it’s been verified or not.

Sarah wrote: "The media has been putting stories on the front page that are not verified that meet their agenda"

Such as?

Such as the supposed attack on the wedding party reported yesterday and, as already mentioned above, the forged pictures of soldiers raping Iraqi women.

Such as the supposed attack on the wedding party reported yesterday and, as already mentioned above, the forged pictures of soldiers raping Iraqi women.

Uh huh... So now you’re going to try to claim that we didn’t kill 40 people. How clever.

By the way, did it escape your attention that FOX News ran the same Iraqi rape story? I’m curious, Sarah. If Conservative media outlets are running the same stories as the so-called liberal outlets, how does this translate to a "liberal bias?"

Yeah, I didn’t think so...

Get clue: the conservatives have been whining about media bias for a many years. They’ll pick and choose stories from any major network or news publication and.......still not see the forest for the trees.
About WMD’s: Maybe a little perspective is in order. THe administrations of Reagan and Bush sr helped Saddam create his war machine back in the 80’s. After they found out he was using chemical weapons in the war with Iran they expressed their "concerns." And then continued to approve aid. So,after a year of having complete access to the country we finally found some evidence that Iraq had what was common knowledge back in the 80’s. Is this supposed to be some kind of shockeroo? Was Iraq a "grave and imminent threat" as was claimed when we invaded? That depends on how desparate you are to construct your favorite fantasies. Conervatives are funny.

It is a fact that the attack happened. That it is said to have been a wedding party is denied by the military. BOTH claims were presented, so where is your argument about any "agenda" supported? As for the alleged rape picture, I don’t recall seeing it, or even hearing the report, in any reputable news source -the first I heard anything about it was when it’s presence in ONE paper (whether like the Enquirer, etc or supposedly a legit paper, I have no idea) as an example by the right of "bias"...


derrig is a sick puppy, so don’t put much thought into what he says

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