7/21/2003

 

Stories that weren't covered

 

Three major stories from the Iraq mess that the press failed to cover:

 

Story one: The results of the weapons inspections of the nineties 90s: One thing about the whole Iraq arms question that everyone seems to agree on is that they had large amounts of chemical weapons after the first Gulf War. I'm not disputing it either. We sold them some of that technology and we know Hussein used it. Still, there are some things that just don't add up.

 

While he may have had a lot of such material initially after the war, it's pretty much agreed that in the early years of the inspections more weapons and materials were found and destroyed than was destroyed by all the bombing leading up to the war. Then the inspections dragged on for over a decade. The inspectors claimed there were still large quantities of materials to be found, but they weren't finding them. For over a decade? Were the estimates wrong? Were they just dragging it out for an excuse to stay in the country and keep an eye on Hussein?

 

And if the inspectors really did think there was that much more material in the country, wasn't it a dumb move to pull the inspectors out in a huff when Hussein refused access to one site? Then we bombed a lot of sites that were potential weapons facilities. How do we know how much was left after that? Yet everyone accepts without question these old estimates from the inspectors. Was the intelligence just as wrong then as it turned out to be this time? It's an important piece in understanding all that has gone on in Iraq and no one is investigating these questions.

 

Story two: The failure of the legislative branch to fulfill its role as check and balance on the executive: Senator Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, on one of the Sunday morning news shows just a few days before the war, was asked what plans were in place for after the war. He answered that he knew the administration had done a tremendous amount of planning for the war, and he hoped they were doing something similar for after the war. He "hoped"? That just rang in my ears like a bell. He didn't know? He, more than any other person outside of the administration, should know. Here we were on the verge of a war pitting us against the world, dividing the nation, and setting a dangerous precedent, and he hadn't asked to see such plans before he voted authorization of the war, or at anytime during the lead-up to the war?

 

Itís the same story with the Senate just now examining the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence committee gets regular updates, but apparently, even with so many questions being raised about that intelligence and so much riding on it, before the war they didn't demand to see the intelligence for themselves and make their own assessment.

 

The legislative branch utterly failed in their responsibility on this, and the fourth estate, the press, the voice of the people, has equally failed to call them to account for it.

 

Story Three: Well...not enough room. Maybe next time.

 

Journalism seems to consist mostly of covering press conferences. If one major politician or activist group challenges some other politician on these issues and has a press conference to announce it, then you'll hear about it. Which reaffirms that you can't assume that if you read the papers you know what's going on. There's a lot that that doesn't get covered.