Thursday, October 10, 2002
Selective reportingThe CIA wrote an open letter to Congress disclosing portions of its assessments of Iraq. So what does the news media choose to focus on? The New York Times headline is typical: "C.I.A. Warns That a U.S. Attack May Ignite Terror":
The letter said "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks" with conventional or chemical or biological weapons against the United States.So, the Times feels that the letter downgrades the threat from Iraq. The Times does present the other side, but in a way sure to convey the Times' disbelief of this position:
Mr. Tenet said tonight that "there is no inconsistency" between the C.I.A. views in the letter and those of the president. He emphasized the Iraqi leader's use of such weapons against his own citizens.The key word is "insisted," Timespeak for "This guy's lying."
So after leading with a headline de-emphasizing the threat from Iraq, and quoting from the portion of the letter that supported this view, and denigrating the opposing view, what does the Times slip by in a single sentence? The argument that the Times has been sneering at since it was raised by the Bush administration: that Iraq and Al Qaeda are connected.
The letter also cited credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq has provided members of the terrorist group with training in the areas of poisons, gases and bomb making.In fact, it said far more than that. From the letter:
¶Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.Well, that sounds pretty serious to me. I wonder if the Times will write a story about it.
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