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[casi] Powell: Weapons Inspectors 'thrown out'.

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SEPTEMBER 29, 2003
5:35 PM
 CONTACT:   Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Newsroom: (212) 633-6700
Another Falsehood on Iraq Goes Unchallenged
NEW YORK - September 29 - On a weekend when the Bush administration's
pre-war intelligence on Iraq was a major topic on the Sunday talkshows,
Secretary of State Colin Powell re-circulated a false story about United
Nations weapons inspectors being kicked out of Iraq in 1998. Some major
media outlets let Powell's comments pass without comment or correction.
On ABC's This Week (9/27/03), Powell explained that the Clinton
administration "conducted a four-day bombing campaign in late 1998 based on
the intelligence that he had. That resulted in the weapons inspectors being
thrown out."
The actual history is much different. On December 15, 1998, the head of the
U.N. weapons inspection team in Iraq, Richard Butler, released a report
accusing Iraq of not fully cooperating with inspections. The next day,
Butler withdrew his inspectors from Iraq, in anticipation of a U.S.-British
bombing campaign that began that evening. Neither George Stephanopoulos nor
George Will, who conducted ABC's interview, corrected Powell's false
In reporting on the interview, the New York Times merely repeated Powell's
charge (9/29/03): "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in a television
appearance today, noted that the Iraqi leader threw weapons inspectors out
in 1998, making it more difficult for intelligence agencies to get hard
information." The Los Angeles Times (9/29/03), meanwhile, paraphrased
Powell's words to make them more factually accurate, prefacing his quote
with the statement that "U.N. weapons inspectors had left Iraq in 1998 and
did not return until late last year." The quote immediately follows, giving
readers the misimpression that Powell accurately conveyed this background.
As the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq have become a
public controversy, it is reasonable to expect journalists to point out
continuing misinformation on Iraq by senior Bush administration officials.
If New York Times editors were interested in correcting the record, all they
would have to do is re-print a correction they ran over three years ago
(2/2/00): "A front-page article yesterday... on Iraq misstated the
circumstances under which international weapons inspectors left that country
before American and British air strikes in December 1998. While Iraq had
ceased cooperating with the inspectors, it did not expel them. The United
Nations withdrew them before the air strikes began."
ACTION: Please contact ABC's This Week and the New York Times and encourage
them to correct Powell's false statements.
ABC's This Week
New York Times
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