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January 31, 2008

60 Minutes Blithely Reports That Up Is Down

Robert Parry and Chris Floyd have already covered some of the atrocious performance by 60 Minutes in their interview this past Sunday with Saddam Hussein's FBI interrogator George Piro. But here's a bit more, which is part of what I'll cover in a longer piece myself that's on its way.

1. Here are some of correspondent Scott Pelley's searching questions:

PELLEY: Before his wars with America, Saddam had fought a ruinous eight-year war with Iran, and it was Iran that he still feared the most. As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn't he stop it then? And say, 'Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction.' I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?

Yes, why didn't Saddam tell the truth? Oh, if only he'd been willing to say precisely that over and over and over again for twelve years, including in a February, 2003 interview with Dan Rather on a show called 60 Minutes:

I believe that that noise and the fleets that have been brought around and the mobilization that's been done were, in fact, done partly to cover the huge lie that was being waged against Iraq about chemical, biological and nuclear weapons...

And it was on that basis that Iraq actually accepted Resolution - accepted it, even though Iraq was absolutely certain that what it had said, what the Iraqi officials had kept saying, that Iraq was empty, was void of any such weapons, was the case. But Iraq accepted that resolution… in order not to allow any misinterpretation of its position. And, indeed, in order to make the case absolutely clear that Iraq was no longer in possession of any weapons.

2. Here's how Piro explained why Saddam refused to say he had nothing:

Agent PIRO: It was very important for him to project that, because that was what kept him, in his mind, in power. That capability kept the Iranians away. It kept them from reinvading Iraq.

PELLEY: He believed that he couldn't survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?

Agent PIRO: Absolutely.

Now here's what we now know, from the CIA's Duelfer report, was going on inside the Iraqi government:

Saddam assembled senior officials in December 2002 and directed them to cooperate completely with inspectors, according to a former senior officer...He stated that all Iraqi organizations should open themselves entirely to UNMOVIC inspectors. The Republican Guard should make all records and even battle plans available to inspectors...

The government directed key military units to conduct special inspections to ensure they possessed no WMD-associated equipment...

Iraqi military industries several times required scientists to sign statements acknowledging the prohibition on conducting WMD research...

The NMD director met with Republican Guard military leaders on 25 January 2003 and advised them they were to sign documents saying that there was no WMD in their units, according to a former Iraqi senior officer. Husam Amin told them that the government would hold them responsible if UNMOVIC found any WMD in their units or areas, or if there was anything that cast doubt on Iraq’s cooperation with UNMOVIC.Commanders established committees to ensure their units retained no evidence of old WMD.

Iraq’s National Assembly passed a law banning WMD...

On 14 February 2003, Saddam issued a presidential directive prohibiting private sector companies and individuals from importing or producing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons or material...

With Saddam striving so hard to make us think they had WMD, how could we possibly have figured out the truth?

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 31, 2008 05:32 PM

That Saddam said he had no WMD on the 60 Minutes show - well. Well, well, well.

But of course, it was Dan Rather talking to him, and I wouldn't be surprised if they've erased ALL the tapes with him on them. Certainly the group photos have had him Photoshopped out.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 31, 2008 06:46 PM

It's. . . .interesting. . . . that IRAN is the bogeyman in Piro's statements. Those Iranians are out to get everybody!

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at January 31, 2008 06:51 PM

It's a wonder that Scott Pelley can talk at all, what with his mouth being constantly full of GWB's cock, and all.

The man is not a journalist. He's not even a dishonest journalist. He's a flat-out liar. At the front of the piece in the first fifteen seconds, Pelley said, "And why did Saddam DRAG THE UNITED STATES INTO WAR -- TWICE??" That was when I started yelling at the screen.

Nothing Scott Pelley says can be taken at face value, not the statement, "the sky is blue", nor even the words "the" and "and".

I spit on him.

Posted by: Hairhead at January 31, 2008 07:36 PM

I call that reporter on 60 minutes an old white guy. I did a post on this show too.

Posted by: Susan at January 31, 2008 09:25 PM

LOOK AND SEE WHO OWNS THE LEASES ON THE KUAITI OIL FIELDS. I'll just bet Poppy Bush's name IS on the title.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 31, 2008 10:18 PM

The facts were there for anyone interested, but this crew of imperial savants just had to fix the facts round the policy...before getting their collective dicks knocked in their watch pockets by the Iraqi resistance. Too bad 1 million+ innocent Iraqi civilians were murdered by American war criminals just to advance Iran's regional dominance.

Short New American Century, eh? Heck of a job, fellas.

Posted by: Pvt. Keepout at February 1, 2008 10:48 AM

I think something that helped this perception initially was the widespread belief that because Saddam was a dictator, that meant Saddam was obviously lying, in a way that democratic politicians would obviously never lie. Clearly.

So, in the minds of a lot of people, his constant denials were in fact "denials". For them, they would have had to see Saddam get down on his knees and beg and plead and profess that he didn't have any WMDs. Probably lose some composure, maybe shed some tears. Grovel.

"Just let me keep my country guys, I don't have 'em, honest" wailed a weeping Saddam, doubled over on his knees, his face covered in dirt from kissing the ground, his uniform torn.

Then MAYBE people would have believed him.

Anyhoo, fast-forwarding to 2008, these sorts of bad assumptions made it much easier to forget that he denied having WMD in the first place. Not believing his denials turned into suppressing the memories of his denials. Yay cognitive dissonance!

I think that factor makes this sort of propaganda seem much more credible.

Unless one reads Tiny Revolution of course.

Posted by: graeme at February 1, 2008 11:55 AM

Dear Hairhead,

You sound like Khan to Kirk from Star Trek II -"from the depths of hell I spit on you." And have you noticed - the screaming at the TV - scares the cats.

By the way, Jon, you seem to forget the most important part of Saddam's big mistake. If ONLY he had let the inspectors stay in Iraq, they could have determined that he had no WMD's. But, as we all know from years of true reportage from the MSM (Christ, it must be embedded in our genetic code by now), he THREW OUT the inspectors in 1998, which means they couldn't have discovered the truth.

I think if I hear that lie one more time my entire skeleton will fly in all directions and impale all in the vicinity.

Posted by: catherine at February 1, 2008 12:29 PM

Wait. Kevin Spacey is Kaiser Soze? Seriously? Dude.

Posted by: IOZ at February 1, 2008 12:40 PM

Indeed catherine, I have a cat, and he did jump when I yelled at Mr. Pelley. My wife jumped, too, and I had to explain to her in reasonable terms exactly why Mr. Pelley is a disgusting piece of trash.

And I believe Khan said, "From's Hell's heart I stab at thee!" Great delivery by Mr. Montalban!

I am, thankfully, not an American. I am grateful to be so, for if I were an American I would be feeling justified in using violence against my current government, and suffering fear and moral pangs as a result.

Posted by: Hairhead at February 1, 2008 01:26 PM

Hairhead: Yeah, but they shoot back.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at February 1, 2008 03:32 PM

And I believe Khan said, "From's Hell's heart I stab at thee!" Great delivery by Mr. Montalban!

Thanks for the correct quote. You'll be pleased to know that I did recognize one incorrect word AFTER I had posted - the "at." Yes, much better "spit at thee," except spit is wrong, too. Oh, hell. I have to say, "Sorry, kitty," a lot when I'm watching TV, perhaps a good reason not to watch so much.

Not only great delivery, but great performance by Montalban. Of course next to Shatner, anybody. . . , oh never mind. But he was terrific.

And I really don't understand how you can even stand to talk to Americans with what's going on.

Posted by: catherine at February 1, 2008 04:19 PM

I don't want to place stress on your skeleton, but commenter joe here believes that that's why Saddam threw them out -- to prevent them from finding out.

Wait! Erwin Rommel threw the inspectors out of Iraq? Seriously? Dude.

Posted by: catherine at February 1, 2008 04:25 PM

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at February 1, 2008 12:51 PM

The point of your post, along with this comment, just make me wince. The same goes for the press not calling Bush on saying the Hussein had kicked the weapons inspectors out shortly after the invasion. I certainly took it that Bush was talking about 2003, but even if he wasn't, he was wrong, and no one called him on it. It's just painful.

Posted by: Batocchio at February 1, 2008 04:45 PM

Not only great delivery, but great performance by Montalban. Of course next to Shatner, anybody. . . , oh never mind. But he was terrific.

You force me now to leap in and defend Bill from yet more unwarranted attacks on his acting abilities. Shatner was (and, I suppose, could be again if he really wanted to be) a really good actor. He was trained in Shakespeare, did fine work on stage and screen, and all in all there simply is nobody else who could have played Captain Kirk.

And, quite frankly, both he and Montalban were much better, and played their characters with more depth and subtlety (no smart remarks, please), in the original Space Seed than in The Wrath of Khan, where Meyer let them go a bit too far over the top. But it was a pretty good movie — better than any of the others, by far.

It did, after all, have a little help from one of the Greats:

Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway maelstrom, and round Perdition's flames before I give him up.
Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from Hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

— Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Posted by: Mike at February 2, 2008 12:15 PM

As long as we're into Melville quotes, here's a good one I just turned up:

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

I think these days we refer to that as 'blowback'.

Posted by: Mike at February 2, 2008 12:25 PM