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imperialism & war | media criticism

Media's Willing Distortions Pave Way for War

Media's Willing Distortions Pave Way for War
An August 8 USA Today article that described how Saddam Hussein is "complicating U.S. plans to topple his regime" repeated a common myth about the history of U.S./Iraq relations. Reporter John Diamond wrote that "Iraq expelled U.N. weapons inspectors four years ago and accused them of being spies." Diamond gives no evidence for this claim, which simply repeats commonplace assumptions about the relevant history. But his statement simply isn't true, by a longshot--as noted in this action alert by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Firstly, Iraq didn't expel the weapons inspectors-the U.S. leader of the inspections team made a unilateral decision to withdraw. Secondly, Iraq's accusation against the weapons inspection teams--that they were spying for the US--later turned out to be true. Corporate media like USA Today are happy to consign these actual facts to the memory hole, in favor of misstatements which make a fine accompaniment to the Bush administration's war drums, but don't do much for the health of our democracy.

The Bush administration can be expected to soon launch a PR campaign to "sell" the idea of attacks on Iraq to the American public. You can bet that these facts will be omitted:

  • US corporations were Iraq's major source--perhaps only source--of biological weapons materials just prior to the Gulf War.
  • International weapons inspectors were instructed not to report the nation of origin of any such weapons they found stockpiled in Iraq.
  • Weapons inspectors in the late 1990s were satisfied that Iraq's capabaility to sustain a biological weapons program had been effectively ended.
  • Iraqi weapons inspections were halted by the US government, not by Iraq.
  • The Bush administration does not want Iraqi weapons inspections to resume; in fact they arranged the ouster of Jose Bustani (former head of the treaty-established Organization for the Prevention Chemical Weapons) in the midst of his promising negotiations to reopen Iraq to inspections.
  • Iraq apparently poses no significant military threat to the US or to its regional neighbors.
  • The US government has produced no evidence linking Iraq or the Saddam Hussein regime to 9/11 terrorist attacks (and not for lack of trying).
  • A US military attack on Iraq, as an act of aggression, would be explicitly illegal under every relevant US and international law (See UN Charter sections VI and VII).

A government preparing for an unnecessary, immoral and illegal war can be expected to tell horrible lies to the public. We should require better from the nation's journalists.