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"Scandal"-Mongering

Reported by Nancy - October 5, 2004 -

Buried among the bloviating about the upcoming VP debate on FNL this morning (10/5) was yet another segment devoted to Fox's ongoing efforts to whip up anti-UN sentiment by sensationalizing an alleged "Oil-for-Food scandal".

In a typical piece of over-hyped & under-sourced reporting, at 10:37am (EDT), Eric Shawn hit the themes that FNL has been pushing for months -- insinuating involvement by "French bankers & consultants", saying that Congress is "grilling" witnesses, & implying that billions of dollars "lined Saddam Hussein's pockets" & enabled him to build palaces. [comment: note that Shawn's report did not repeat sensationalist allegations, made during a David Asman special last month, that tried to imply that anyone & everyone who did business with Iraq under the Oil-for-Food program was, in effect, funding terrorism.] Curiously, although Shawn was in DC & mentioned the current Congressional testimony, he did not update the UN's own investigation of the matter, being headed by Paul Volcker, nor did he mention a US government report that will be released tomorrow.

Today's New York Times covers that report more completely, in an article called "Inspector's Report to Detail Iraqi Plans to Undermine Sanctions and Produce Illicit Arms":


A report to be made public on Wednesday by the top American weapons inspector in Iraq will outline new details of attempts by Saddam Hussein's government to undermine United Nations sanctions as part of a plan to produce illicit weapons if those sanctions were lifted, Bush administration officials said Monday. The report by the arms inspector, Charles A. Duelfer [who replaced David Kay in January 2004], will make clear that Iraq did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the American invasion in 2003, and that it had not begun any large-scale program for weapons production by the time of the invasion, the officials said. Those findings had previously been reported ... .

Mr. Duelfer's conclusion that Iraq clearly intended to produce illicit weapons if the sanctions were lifted had also been previously reported. But the final version of the document, in making that case, describes new evidence of concerted Iraqi efforts to bypass the sanctions while they were still in place and to undermine international support for them. ... That evidence is expected to be figure prominently in efforts by the administration to cast the report in a favorable light. With Election Day less than a month away, the White House has been seeking to persuade voters that the war in Iraq was justified even though the weapons stockpiles it cited as the main rationale for the invasion now do not appear to have existed.

... In an appearance in Atlanta on Friday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell provided what other officials described Monday as a preview of how the White House and other agencies would depict the new report. Mr. Powell said the report by Mr. Duelfer would make "very, very clear" that "what Saddam Hussein was trying to do was to break out of the sanctions" imposed by the United Nations. "He was trying to break the sanctions, not for the purpose of applying to be Soldier of the Month, but for the purpose of going back and developing these kinds of weapons," Mr. Powell said.

... The officials said the document did not describe any specific plan by Mr. Hussein to build chemical, biological or nuclear weapons once sanctions were lifted, but did include what they described as significant new disclosures about Iraqi efforts to subvert the sanctions and to whittle away international support for them. ...

... In a television interview on Sunday, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said she would "argue to this day" that Mr. Hussein had posed a threat to the United States even though prewar intelligence reports now appear to have been mistaken in asserting that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear program. Ms. Rice did not specifically mention Mr. Duelfer's report, but she said the threat posed by Mr. Hussein had been magnified "with sanctions breaking down, with many states ready to help Saddam Hussein come out of those sanctions."

... [T]he report will largely uphold earlier findings, issued in October 2003. ... Those findings include no evidence that Iraq had chemical or biological weapons or was reconstituting its nuclear weapons, as well as no evidence of a continuing large-scale effort to produce illicit weapons, the officials have said. ... The officials said the report included new information about efforts by Iraq to bypass the sanctions and to undermine international support for them, but did not spell out any precise Iraqi plan on how it might resume weapons production once they were lifted.

Comment: It's a long article, so I included a long excerpt. But reading the entire article will show you how Fox's reporting on this issue parrots the official line emanating from the Bush administration. Of course, if Fox actually covered the Oil-for-Food "scandal" thoroughly, they'd have to deviate from the official Fox & White House line, & point out little details like "ATTEMPTS by Saddam Hussein's government to undermine UN sanctions as part of a PLAN to produce illicit weapons IF those sanctions were lifted ... " or "ACCUSATIONS that Iraq was SEEKING to evade the sanctions" or "Iraq DID NOT POSSESS STOCKPILES OF ILLICIT WEAPONS at the time of the American invasion in 2003, and that IT HAD NOT BEGUN ANY LARGE-SCALE PROGRAM FOR WEAPONS PRODUCTION by the time of the invasion" [emphasis added] And then they'd have to acknowledge that the whole Oil-for-Food program was created by the US & UK when the rest of the UN wanted to lift sanctions on Iraq, & that it was repeated US vetoes in the Security Council that actually "enabled" Saddam Hussein.