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[casi] USA Today Repeats Myths on Iraq Inspectors




http://www.fair.org/activism/usat-iraq.html


August 12, 2002

An August 8 USA Today article that described how Saddam Hussein is "complicating U.S. plans to 
topple his regime" repeated a common myth about the history of U.S./Iraq relations. Reporter John 
Diamond wrote that "Iraq expelled U.N. weapons inspectors four years ago and accused them of being 
spies."

But Iraq did not "expel" the UNSCOM weapons inspectors; in fact, they were withdrawn by Richard 
Butler, the head of the inspections team. The
Washington Post, like numerous other media outlets, reported it accurately at the time (12/17/98): 
"Butler ordered his inspectors to evacuate Baghdad, in anticipation of a military attack, on 
Tuesday night."

USA Today wouldn't have to consult the archives of other media outlets to find out what happened: A 
timeline that appeared in the paper on
December 17, 1998 included this entry for December 16: "U.N. weapons inspectors withdraw from 
Baghdad one day after reporting Iraq was still not cooperating." USA Today also reported (12/17/98) 
that "Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov criticized Butler for evacuating inspectors from Iraq 
Wednesday morning without seeking permission from the Security Council."

As for Iraq accusing weapons inspectors of being spies, Diamond might have mentioned that this 
accusation has proven to be correct. The Washington Post reported in 1999 (1/8/99) that "United 
Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in Amed˘┐┐ô ╦rican 
efforts to undermine the Iraqi regime."

USA Today was clearly aware of the spy story, since the paper wrote an editorial excusing it. 
Headlined "Spying Flap Merely a Sideshow" (1/8/99), the paper argued that "spying on Saddam Hussein 
is nothing new and nothing needing an apology. But the Clinton administration suddenly is 
scrambling to explain why it did just that." The paper added that the information gathered "no 
doubt found uses other than just weapons detection. That may not be playing by the books, but it's 
understandable and probably inevitable."


ACTION: Contact USA Today and ask that the paper correct the errors in its August 8 report on Iraq, 
"Saddam Already Battling Invasion."

CONTACT:
USA Today
Elisa Tinsley, World Editor
editor@usatoday.com
Phone: 1-800-872-0001

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite 
tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your
correspondence.

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 military attack, on Tuesday night."

USA Today wouldn't have to consult the archives of other media outlets to find out what happened: A 
timeline that appeared in the paper on
December 17, 1998 included this entry for December 16: "U.N. weapons inspectors withdraw from 
Baghdad one day after reporting Iraq was still not cooperating." USA Today also reported (12/17/98) 
that "Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov criticized Butler for evacuating inspectors from Iraq 
Wednesday morning without seeking permission from the Security Council."

As for Iraq accusing weapons inspectors of being spies, Diamond might have mentioned that this 
accusation has proven to be correct. The Washington Post reported in 1999 (1/8/99) that "United 
Nations arms inspectors helped collect eavesdropping intelligence used in Amed˘┐┐ô ╦

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