Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Rather Factor

The Rather Factor: Howard Kurtz's interview with Dan Rather, included the fact Rather had interviewed Saddam Hussein - being the last reporter to do so.

Recall that trip.

Below are links to media analysis, news and commentary related to CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather's inverview with evil dictator Saddam Hussein.


There were some who questioned whether that Saddam was the real Saddam as Saddam had been known to plant doubles so nobody would catch him, or assassinate him.

Net the Truth Online speculated way back when at the time, Rather could have done the country of the United States a big service (Hussein was wanted by U.S.) if he'd had a double for himself go in, an FBI agent, who would've captured Hussein.

But hey, that kind of great stuff only happens in fiction.

The part wherein Rather reflects he should have listened more closely to Saddam Hussein's pronouncement he didn't have any Weapons of Mass Destruction is the most astonishing part of the December 17, 2006 CNN Reliable Sources Interview of Rather with Howard Kurtz.

Really, all the nations of the world had agreed in the United Nations that Hussein had not destroyed his known-to-be-had weapons of mass destruction.

The United Nations (IAEA) if I recall correctly, had issued a report on Iraq wherein Hussein was reported to still have weapons of mass destruction, the same bioweapons he'd used on the Kurds.

This issue brief first looks at the six key states in the region that possess WMD—Israel, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Egypt—and their WMD capabilities and commitments to nonproliferation regimes. But more importantly, what motivates these key powers to acquire or produce WMD? And what options are available for defusing some of the conflicts and reducing the reliance on WMD...

Iraq is suspected of having an active, clandestine nuclear weapons program. In 1975, it commissioned the construction of a French nuclear reactor located in Tuwaitha. Despite the 1981 destruction of the reactor by Israel, the facility continued to enrich uranium and pursue other nuclear weapons efforts. By the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi program had advanced to the point of having completed a prototype design of a nuclear bomb, although it had not been tested. After its defeat in the war, Iraq was subjected to United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections to uncover and destroy its nuclear capabilities. However, these inspection teams were expelled in 1998 and had been denied access to any new or renewed facilities and sites until November 2002. As a result of the four-year absence of inspectors, experts estimate that Baghdad’s nuclear program has progressed significantly and may be as little as one year from completing a nuclear weapon.[2]

Iraq is believed to have made widespread use of chemical agents during its war with Iran (Iran-Iraq War 1980-88) and against its own Kurdish population in northern Iraq, including in Halabja, in 1988. Prior to 1990, Iraq had produced the blister agent mustard and the nerve agents tabun, sarin, and VX. According to its own admissions to UN inspectors, Iraq had produced 3,859 tons of agents and more than 125,000 filled and unfilled “special munitions” between 1982 and 1990. Iraq’s main chemical weapons production, filling, and testing facility was at the Muthana State Establishment, where most of the weaponized chemical agents were stored. By 1995, international inspectors had largely completed verification and destruction of Iraq’s chemical stocks, munitions, and production equipment. However, the United States believes that Iraq continues to have a significant, secret stockpile of chemical agents, especially nerve agents, and that it has largely rebuilt its chemical weapons research and production infrastructure.

Iraq has had a biological weapon program since 1985. By 1990, it had stockpiled 25 missile warheads and 166 400-pound aerial bombs filled with anthrax, botullinum toxin, or aflatoxin. Iraq has admitted to having about 20,000 liters of boulinum toxin, 8,425 liters of anthrax, and 2,200 liters of aflatoxin. It has also acknowledged having researched the weapons potential of camelpox virus, human rotavirus, enterovirus 17, and the toxin ricin. Due to the absence of inspectors between December 1998 and November 2002, little is known about the status of Iraq’s BW program.


Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, Iraq purchased considerable numbers of short-range Scud missiles and launchers from the Soviet Union. In the late 1980s, towards the end of its war with Iran, Iraq extended the range of the Scud to 650 km, using many of these modified missiles for the remainder of the Iran-Iraq War and in the 1991 Gulf War. After Iraq’s defeat in the 1991 war, UN inspections put a halt to its range of missile projects that Iraq had pursued with extensive foreign assistance. However, it has continued to develop various ballistic missile systems under the restrictions of the Gulf War ceasefire resolution, which limit the range of missiles to 150 km. Amongst the missiles are the Ababil and the Al-Samoud, which Iraq continues to test and for which it continues to seek foreign assistance


Here's the Kurtz interview segment:

KURTZ: The situation in Iraq is widely considered a mess. Tony Snow told me on this program last week that the media have a failure narrative when it comes to Iraq and Laura Bush said on MSNBC the other day that the reason people think things are so bad there is because of media drumbeat that focuses excessively on the violence. What do you make of those arguments?

RATHER: Well, not very much, Howard.

With respect, this is an old story, that when things go bad, blame the media. We have not been perfect and I include myself in that assessment but it turns out that the media's assessment and what it's communicated with the American public has been far more accurate about the situation on the ground, the real situation on the battlefield than has been the pronouncements out of Washington or that matter from the military itself.

It is a common occurrence to say the problems are not the problems, the people who call attention to the problems are the problem and by any reasonably objective analysis by any decent, attending (ph) person, that doesn't hold up.

I do emphasize that there have been some very good things done by the American mission in Iraq and I do agree that to a certain point that they have been underreported. But overall and in the main I come back to the central point which is the press has done a much better job of informing people what the war is, what it really is, as opposed to what some people in power want us to think it is.

KURTZ: With the obvious limitations that it is difficult for correspondents to get around the country because of the dangers there.

Now you were the last journalist to interview Saddam Hussein back in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq War. I want to play a little bit of that to remind viewers of that conversation.


RATHER: Saddam also rejected Bush administration allegations that besides the missile delivery system, he still has weapons of mass destruction.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF IRAQ (through translator): I think America and the world also knows that Iraq no longer has the weapons.


KURTZ: Does that answer seem different to you now than it might have seemed at the time when most people did believe that Saddam had WMD?

RATHER: Well, I believed it. When the president of the United States, no matter who he is or what party he belongs to, says that a situation is thus, I tend to believe it and I think most Americans tend to believe him and so when Saddam said that at the time, frankly, my thought was, he's lying.

But it turns out about that at least he was telling the truth and he told more accurate assessments of the situation than we were being told by others.No misunderstanding about this, Howard. Saddam Hussein was a despot. You cannot be in his presence and not have it go through your mind, he is a stone cold killer. And his record bears that out.

But he said two things in that interview that looking back on it I wish I had paid more attention to.

Number one was he almost vehemently denied that he had weapons of mass destruction
and the second was, when I said this amazing, huge American armada, the greatest military force in history is about to come down on you, what do you think of that?

And he said, look, we will absorb a tremendous initial blow. We may absorb tremendous blows after that, but as time goes on, we have our ways and you will see that it will not be easy for the Americans.

And I have thought about that many times since.

KURTZ: Haunting words. And Saddam, of course, sentenced to death, recently, by an Iraqi court.


There goes Steve Doocy again just after the weather report, you can get the Doocy book, Mr. and Mrs. Happy All the Time Despite Wrinkles, Baldness, Obesity, Bi-Polar Disorder... previously, Ms. Green, anchor-at-times, became a bit touchy over the "age" question. Don't know what all that was about, but she seemed like she never wanted to be referred to as reaching age 50. Hey Lorin, somehow we don't think you have to worry. The skilled news anchor is an accomplished concert pianist.

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