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Sean Hannity And Rick Santorum Cling To Discredited "Finding" Of WMD in Iraq

Reported by Ellen - June 22, 2006

What a coincidence that one week after Karl Rove urged Republicans not to make excuses for going to war against Iraq and to put critical Democrats on the defensive, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), 18 points behind in his re-election efforts, and representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) suddenly came up with some report that 500 chemical weapons have been found in Iraq. Almost the entire hour of Hannity & Colmes last night (6/21/06) was devoted to this “discovery” despite the fact that FOX News’ own Jim Angle had already reported that the Bush administration said the weapons were not in useable condition and were not the WMD's for which we went to war.

The entire show was filled with “FOX News Alerts” about the report. “This is exactly what we suspected he had,” Hannity crowed, before adding, falsely, “This is only a part of why we went into Iraq.” But he never asked either Santorum or Hoekstra, both of whom appeared on the show, about the administration’s response or the likely degraded condition of the chemical weapons.

In fact, it wasn’t until Alan Colmes’ portion of the discussion that Jim Angle’s reporting was even mentioned. “Jim Angle, who reported this for FOX News, quotes a defense official who says these were pre-1991 weapons that could not have been fired as designed because they’d already been degraded and the official went on to say these are not the WMD’s this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had and not the WMD’s for which this country went to war. So the chest-beating that the Republicans are doing tonight, thinking this is a justification is not confirmed by the Defense Department.”

Santorum pooh-poohed that by saying “I’d like to know who that Defense Department spokesperson is. The fact of the matter is, I’ll wait and see what the actual Defense Department formally says or, more importantly, the administration formally says.” The Defense Department's comments were deemed credible enough to post on FOXNews.com but Santorum insisted that the weapons “couldn’t be maybe fired efficiently but they certainly could be used in a terrorist incident.”

Colmes noted that the White House has been silent – which Santorum could not account for.

Colmes, who was at the top of his game in this segment, further said that Santorum is 18 points behind his challenger. Wasn’t this “a desperate attempt” by Santorum to re-establish himself “in a race in which you’re not doing very well.”

“Who said that?” Hannity peevishly interjected, although he’s not supposed to interrupt Colmes’ portion.

Hoekstra insisted that the report undermined Democratic criticism of the war when “We all knew before the war that Saddam had chemical weapons of mass destruction.” Comment: Yes, but as Chrish reported, "The UN Weapons Inspectors declared in 2004 that there were no WMDs of any significance in Iraq. Despite that, Hoekstra insisted this new report “created an overwhelming case about how dangerous this regime was.”

Colmes posted a statement from the Iraq Survey Group’s final report. “While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991.” Colmes added, “This is pre-1991, sir… These are degraded. They’re not useable… There’s nothing new here.”

Colmes must have been getting under Hannity’s skin. As he ended the segment, he said “Great job!” to Santorum and Hoekstra and “jokingly” continued, “If they’re so confident they’re degraded, maybe we can drop it off at a liberal’s house, see if they’ll store it in their garage.”

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