OxBlog

Sunday, July 20, 2003

# Posted 9:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

REVISIONIST HISTORY?: The NYT has a long review of who knew what about WMD when. Basically, the article says that the administration seriously overstated the case for the existence of WMD. While one might criticize the article for not providing anything new, its greatest flaw is its systematic failure to mention any of the most compelling reasons to believe that Saddam had extensive stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

The hero of the NYT's story is, of course, Colin Powell, who often criticized administration hawks for wanting to show the public only that evidence which favored the administration's position. Fair enough. It is now apparent that the Pentagon often let its politics get the best of its intelligence.

More interestingly, the Times avoids praising Powell for his emphasis at the United Nations on intelligence profiling Saddam's comprehensive effort to prevent UN weapons inspectors from uncovering information relevant to his weapons programs. This evidence was and still remains unchallenged. Saddam was both hiding something and in clear violation of Resolution 1441. You remember 1441, don't you?

Another glaring oversight in the NYT article is the failure to mention (let alone explain) the fact that even the most prominent opponents of the war believed that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons. If, as the NYT suggests, the administration had to spin the intelligence to persuade the American public that Saddam had WMD, why did independent and skeptical figures such as Hans Blix come to the same conclusion?

In short, the NYT tries to leave the impression that the nation was misled into war. If not for the political connotations of the phrase, one might be tempted to say that the Times is in the process of writing "revisionist history".
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