The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Isabel Macdonald

Communications Director

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Media Still Letting Bush Lie on Iraq Inspectors

ABC, Washington Post Fail to Challenge President's Misinformation


In a December 1 interview with ABC anchor Charles Gibson, George W. Bush
gave a grossly erroneous history of the run-up to the Iraq War--a false version
of events that Gibson failed to challenge and the Washington Postglossed over the following day.

When Gibson asked
if Bush wished he had any "do-overs," Bush

BUSH: I don't know--the biggest regret
of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their
reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass
destruction is [sic] a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just
people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival
in Washington D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations
around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. And, you know,
that's not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

GIBSON: If the intelligence had been
right, would there have been an Iraq War?

BUSH: Yes, because Saddam Hussein was
unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether or not the U.N.
resolutions were being upheld. In other words, if he had had weapons of mass
destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

GIBSON: No, if you had known he didn't.

BUSH: Oh, I see what you're saying. You
know, that's an interesting question. That is a do-over that I can't do. It's
hard for me to speculate.

The Washington Post's write-up (12/1/08), praising Bush's "new candor,"
reported that he admitted to errors and regrets in several
key areas. He said he wished "the intelligence had been different" on
Iraq but declined to speculate on
whether he still would have decided to go to war. "That is a do-over that
I can't do," he said.

As Greg Sargent of Talking Points
(12/2/08)noted: "For Bush to blame the failure of intel
for his decision to invade is not a
concession at all
, and it is not an admission of failure on his
part.... It is an evasion of
responsibility for what happened."

But there was an
even more glaring distortion of history in Bush's statement: his claim that
Saddam Hussein prevented weapons inspectors from conducting searches in Iraq. In reality, the inspections were
a well-publicized process that attracted international news coverage and were
the subject of lengthy discussions at the United Nations.

This is not the
first time Bush has denied this history. As FAIR pointed out (7/18/03), in July 2003 Bush made a similar comment
("We gave him a chance to allow the
inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in"), which the Post soft-pedaled by saying these words
"appeared to contradict the events leading up to war this spring."
And reporter Robert Parry (Consortium News,
12/2/08) noted after the ABC interview that Bush has made similar
declarations (1/27/04,
5/24/07 )--none of which
generated much interest from the corporate media.

It is troubling that Gibson would not challenge Bush
on this fundamental misrepresentation of reality--and that the Post would let Bush's lie go unreported.

ABC and the Washington Post to clarify--and
fact-check--Bush's statements on the prelude to the Iraq War.

ABC News
Charles Gibson

Washington Post
Deborah Howell, Ombud

post any responses you receive from ABC or the Washington Post
on the FAIR Blog:

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.