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[casi] Media Silent on Gen. Clark's 9/11 Comments

FAIR  Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting     112 W. 27th Street   New York, NY

Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments:

Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence

June 20, 2003

Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make
news for days afterward. Since prominent government officials dominate the
guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of
major newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.

But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz
that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert
that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate
Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark
said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the
terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.

Here is a transcript of the exchange:


CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting
immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam

RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"

CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the
White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and
I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is
state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I
said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never
got any evidence."


Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS Evening News story that
aired on September 4, 2002. As correspondent David Martin reported: "Barely
five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, the
secretary of defense was telling his aides to start thinking about striking
Iraq, even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the
attacks." According to CBS, a Pentagon aide's notes from that day quote
Rumsfeld asking for the "best info fast" to "judge whether good enough to
hit SH at the same time, not only UBL." (The initials SH and UBL stand for
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.) The notes then quote Rumsfeld as
demanding, ominously, that the administration's response "go massive...sweep
it all up, things related and not."

Despite its implications, Martin's report was greeted largely with silence
when it aired. Now, nine months later, media are covering damaging
revelations about the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, yet still
seem strangely reluctant to pursue stories suggesting that the flawed
intelligence-- and therefore the war-- may have been a result of deliberate
deception, rather than incompetence. The public deserves a fuller accounting
of this story.

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