Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
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Media Silent on Clark's 9/11 Comments:
Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence
June 20, 2003
Sunday morning talk shows like ABC's This Week or Fox News Sunday often make news for days afterward. Since prominent
government officials dominate the guest lists of the programs, it is not unusual for the Monday editions of major
newspapers to report on interviews done by the Sunday chat shows.
But the June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley
Clark told anchor Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein
in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link
Baghdad to the terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the
terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."
RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"
CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a
call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is
state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's
your evidence?' And I never got any evidence." ---
Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS Evening News story that aired on September 4, 2002. As correspondent
David Martin reported: "Barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, the secretary of
defense was telling his aides to start thinking about striking Iraq, even though there was no evidence linking Saddam
Hussein to the attacks." According to CBS, a Pentagon aide's notes from that day quote Rumsfeld asking for the "best
info fast" to "judge whether good enough to hit SH at the same time, not only UBL." (The initials SH and UBL stand for
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.) The notes then quote Rumsfeld as demanding, ominously, that the administration's
response "go massive...sweep it all up, things related and not."
Despite its implications, Martin's report was greeted largely with silence when it aired. Now, nine months later, media
are covering damaging revelations about the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, yet still seem strangely
reluctant to pursue stories suggesting that the flawed intelligence-- and therefore the war-- may have been a result of
deliberate deception, rather than incompetence. The public deserves a fuller accounting of this story.
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