imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

What, No Smoking Gun? The Media and the Specter of WMD

by Cynthia Cotts Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 7:58 AM

Extra, extra: Evidence is emerging that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may never provide a compelling justification for the war.

Press Clips

by Cynthia Cotts

What, No Smoking Gun?

The Media and the Specter of WMD

April 23 - 29, 2003



Extra, extra: Evidence is emerging that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may never provide a compelling justification for the war. You remember: Saddam Hussein was supposed to have a huge cache of chemical and biological weapons which he was hiding from UN inspectors and would happily share with terrorists so they could attack the U.S. The threat was so dire it called for a preemptive strike, and as for evidence—well, U.S. troops would team up with hand-picked media to find and publicize stockpiles of WMD. That way, the war would be justified . . . retroactively.

But since the war began, the military and its media have trumpeted one WMD discovery after another that turned out to be a dud. Searches of "sensitive sites" have turned up gas masks, protective suits, antidotes, manuals, white powder, barrels of chemicals, and a cache of mystery shells—but no smoking gun. The military types who could not wait another week for UN inspectors to do their job are now saying their own WMD search will take weeks, maybe months.

This is all so peculiar it calls for a heightened level of skepticism. But after weeks of false alarms, some major media outlets have fallen into the habit of unironically reporting the absence of news. Last week, CNN began a WMD report with the words "No smoking gun yet," and the headline on a recent New York Times story read, "U.S. Inspectors Find No Forbidden Weapons at Iraqi Arms Plant." On Monday, the Times reported that an unnamed scientist who claims to have worked for Iraq now says WMD evidence was destroyed just days before the war began.

Sure, unambiguous proof of the hidden stockpiles may turn up any day now. But the threat of Iraq's WMD may also turn out to be the biggest media hoax since Y2K.

Remember Y2K? The phrase alarmed business people everywhere. Playing on apocalyptic fears, its theory was that computers not programmed to recognize the date 2000 would shut down, causing systematic chaos. Along with media scare stories came the companies that fed on Y2K, remora-like, selling consulting services at a premium. In the end, Americans paid big time for protection from a threat that never panned out.

If no significant WMD turn up, U.S. taxpayers footing the bill for rebuilding Iraq might begin to suspect Bush's motives. But the real victims of WMD may turn out to be the journalists who were issued gas masks and fed a constant diet of hype. By reporting over and over on a hunch that did not come to pass, they risk the fate of the boy who cried wolf—when they discover an authentic threat in the future, no one will believe them.

There's no hard proof that the Bush administration overhyped Iraq's hidden WMD as an excuse to introduce its own inspection teams. But the evidence is suspicious, indeed. The lead WMD team in Iraq is the Chemical Biological Intelligence Support Team, a/k/a/ the 75th Exploitation Task Force, or 75th XTF. The head of the task force, army colonel Richard McPhee, was identified last month by The New York Times and The Washington Post, but McPhee would not give details on the XTF's members, numbers, or operations to the Post, and asked a reporter not to reveal his home base.

The XTF tests WMD "samples" first in the field, then in its mobile labs. After that, according to an article in the April 17 Baltimore Sun, the samples are flown to a top-secret lab in Maryland, which is surrounded by concertina wire and M16-toting soldiers. The lab at the Aberdeen Proving Ground usually produces tests within 72 hours—but officials say these are not "usual" times. No results have been announced.

WMD hype surged on April 7 and 8, when the media reported the discoveries of suspicious-looking warheads and barrels. Introducing a barrel story on April 7, Wolf Blitzer announced, "We begin with what may turn out to be the smoking gun" in the hunt for WMD. After telling viewers that preliminary tests on the barrels indicated nerve or blister agents, Blitzer added, "Officials caution they also simply could be pesticides." As CNN's Ryan Chilcote concluded, the evidence was inconclusive.

On April 8, the Times ran a photo on B1 in which the suspicious barrels appeared under a yellow sign that said, "Gas." The Times' Bernard Weinraub wrote that "according to preliminary tests, [the drums] may contain deadly nerve agents and mustard gas," but could also be "false alarms." Also on April 8, the New York Post hyped the barrels in a story headlined "Seized Chem Stashes May Be Smoking Gun," along with a sidebar offering facts about sarin, tabun, lewisite, and mustard gas. The next day, the Post noted that "more testing is needed."

Then there was the discovery of "chemical warheads," which were believed to contain nerve and mustard gas. On April 7, NPR's John Burnett reported that a U.S. officer called the warheads a "potential smoking gun," and the story was heard around the world. A few days later, the story died.

In early April, even as U.S. officials insisted they would find WMD, skeptics began saying the U.S. inspection teams had lost credibility and insisting that any WMD in Iraq must be verified by independent weapons inspectors—or risk being dismissed as manufactured evidence. Also this month, the Times began supplementing its rah-rah XTF stories with news analyses by William J. Broad. (Broad is the science writer who helped the Times gently correct its Wen Ho Lee coverage.) An April 18 Times editorial quietly posited that U.S. teams in Iraq "are not truly expert in finding hidden weapons."

Then Bush began threatening to invade Syria in search of the missing WMD. But how will that play in the Mideast? On April 17, The Washington Post reported that "almost every country in the region has pursued [WMD] . . . primarily because of the arsenal Israel has built up." One expert told the Post, "You can't get rid of [WMD] in Arab countries unless you also address the elimination of Israel's nuclear and chemical programs."

As long as the Pentagon can find a home for WMD stories based on anonymous sources and unverified claims, why ruin a good story with the truth?

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 10 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
But we know... Diogenes Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 8:00 AM
Where are they? Truth Detector Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 10:58 AM
Them WMD's is in Iraq Typical Conservative Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 11:55 AM
WMD Typical Liberal Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 1:47 PM
The sky is falling! Typical Conservative Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 1:49 PM
D'oh! Typical moron Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 2:03 PM
"Typical moron" Typical Conservative Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 2:05 PM
Sky falling Typical Liberal Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 2:06 PM
The sky is falling! Typical Conservative Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 2:17 PM
and so what? johnk Friday, Apr. 25, 2003 at 2:29 PM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy