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Short Attention Span Media: Drumheller, Naji Sabri and WMDs
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Media Matters is critical of the media for "almost entirely ignor[ing]" the Tyler Drumheller claim that the "Bush administration dismissed clear-cut evidence undermining President Bush's central case for war — that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction"...
Drumheller disclosed that, more than six months before the Iraq invasion, Naji Sabri Ahmad Al-Hadithi, Saddam's foreign affairs minister, agreed to provide the CIA with Iraqi military secrets. [...] Sabri subsequently informed intelligence officials that Saddam "had no active weapons of mass destruction program." But when the White House learned of Sabri's disclosure in September 2002, "[t]hey stopped being interested in the intelligence."
I've got a couple more details being ignored by the media — and by Media Matters.

Among others, 60 Minutes, the New York Times and CNN have reported Drumheller's claim that the administration learned from Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri that "Iraq had no active programs for weapons of mass destruction". Yet, just one month ago, MSNBC reported that same story, except they had Sabri claiming "Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" left over from the first Gulf War" and that, while Saddam did not have a "significant, active biological weapons program", he still "desperately wanted a [nuclear] bomb", though he would need more than the "several months" the CIA had predicted if Iraq obtained enriched uranium. Sabri also claimed Iraq had "'renewed' production of deadly agents". (via Hawkins)

  • Why didn't 60 Minutes, the New York Times or CNN report these statements?

  • Why does Media Matters claim that Drumheller "proved" that the administration dismissed evidence undercutting the claim that Iraq had WMDS....without disclosing the fact that Sabri also indicated that Iraq "had stockpiled as much as "500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents" and had "renewed" production of deadly agents"?

I can understand why a partisan advocacy organization like Media Matters would spread disinformation and misleading spin. But why, after initially reporting the full story, does the media now only report the part of the story that fits the current narrative zeitgeist? (that's a rhetorical question)
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Those goal posts should in NASCAR, with the speed they are moving.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
The reason they don’t give the full story is because it doesn’t fit their meme. This is why I don’t watch those shows/channels anymore.
Written By: Monica
URL: http://
Sabri also indicated that Iraq "had stockpiled as much as "500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents

Because it’s not REAL WMD unless they find a nuke with the words "death to America" written on it, and signed by Saddam.
Yet, just one month ago, MSNBC reported that same story, except they had Sabri claiming "Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" left over from the first Gulf War" and that, while Saddam did not have a "significant, active biological weapons program", he still "desperately wanted a [nuclear] bomb
OOOOPS, kind of vindicates Bush in that case, doesn’t it?
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Doesnt the second part about "Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" and all that make the first part that Saddam "had no active weapons of mass destruction program." a non-story?

Hey, let’s be glad the media is not reporting on the story at all, rather than misreport the story the way media matters does.
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Retired General- Lieutenant Thomsa Mclnerney Attended the International Summit and he said that
Saddam had WMDS just before the war and that these WMDS were moved to Syria and Lebanon with the help of Russian special forces ,he has not been worried about giving his opinion and he cities the Iran as one of for thr current policies of Bush’s administrationthe main reasons.
I hope the whole stroy will be soon released by the media and the world will know the whole truth about Saddam’s WMDS and the real cause of this Iraq war.
Written By: William Horton
URL: http://
But why, after initially reporting the full story, does the media now only report the part of the story that fits the current narrative zeitgeist? (that’s a rhetorical question)
Jon, I’m not quite sure how to read this. Are you now coming around to the idea that the media consistently exhibits liberal bias?
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
I love these "blockbuster" stories. Each one is based on some truth with all the inconvenient facts removed, like pulling the legs off an ant.

I went a couple of rounds on this story the other day at Matthew Yglesias’ site.

Amazingly, I found out that the WMDs that he was talking about were "nukes," as "chemical weapons are a red herring here. They don’t cause "mass destruction" and are nothing to worry about." I’m sure the Kurds think otherwise, as do the Japanese ala AUM Shinrikyo.

The posters finally digressed into whether the WaPo indicated that Iran or Iraq that sought uranium in Niger. Many of the facts of the "SOTU 16 words," Niger (and the Democratic Republic of Congo) are clearly spelled out in the Butler Report. Everyone interested in that aspect should please read this British report, especially pages 123 thru 125. It was obvious that most posters had not.

As for Naji Sabri, his information was filled with just as much noise as much of the other intelligence. None of the poison gas stockpiles indicated by Naji Sabri were found by the ISG. You might say he was in included in that "we were all wrong."

Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Why didn’t 60 Minutes, the New York Times or CNN report these statements?
A fair critcism.
But for fun, I’m going to play the part of “anti” McQ. Let’s see… I believe it would go something like this, … ahem,
Yet, just one month ago, MSNBC reported that same story, except they had Sabri claiming "Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" left over from the first Gulf War"
What are you going on about, Jon? That’s not what the story was about,
Drumheller was the CIA’s top man in Europe, the head of covert operations there, until he retired a year ago. He says he saw firsthand how the White House promoted intelligence it liked and ignored intelligence it didn’t:
The 60 Minutes piece is about how the administration “promoted intelligence it liked and ignored intelligence it didn’t.” Sabri’s claims about Iraq having WMD left over from the first Gulf War is neither here nor there regarding the administration’s favor.
and that, while Saddam did not have a "significant, active biological weapons program", he still "desperately wanted a [nuclear] bomb"
Irrelevant. Again, not what the story is about,
The road to war in Iraq took some strange turns — none stranger than a detour to the West African country of Niger. In late 2001, a month after 9/11, the United States got a report from the Italian intelligence service that Saddam Hussein had bought 500 tons of so-called yellowcake uranium in order to build a nuclear bomb.

But Drumheller says many CIA analysts were skeptical. "Most people came to the opinion that there was something questionable about it," he says.

Asked if that was his reaction, Drumheller says, "That was our reaction from the very beginning. The report didn’t hold together."

Drumheller says that was the "general feeling" in the agency at that time.
The fact that Saddam wanted a bomb isn’t what the story is about.
In a phone call and two faxes to the White House, they warned “the Africa story is overblown” and “the evidence is weak.” The speechwriters took the uranium reference out of the speech.
Drumheller says that it wasn’t an intelligence failure, it was a policy failure. And that the administration ignored the warnings coming out of CIA.
The 60 Minutes piece had no obligation to tell you relevant information, Jon. After all, it’s not what the story is about.

Well, what do you think? Any good.
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
But why, after initially reporting the full story, does the media now only report the part of the story that fits the current narrative zeitgeist?

The title of your post answers this question .. short attention span ... and laziness.

As, I move from blog to blog, there is a constant stream of information that has no factual basis that is posted over and over again as fact. Many fellow travelers assume after seeing it over and over again that someone must have checked it out, but not so. This happens with simple facts (see my post above). Often this seems like a "throw sh.t at the wall and see what sticks" to people’s memories. It is the formulation of an "unfact." If it were intentional, it would be the converse to the "big lie."
The press seems to be doing the same thing.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Imagine two people looking at a map and arguing about whether they took a right turn or a left turn 2 hours ago and that is why they are where they are today.

I am still amazed that the debate is still raging. It is of little consequence whether the truth is one way or the other. The issue at hand is where we go from here. It is no longer relevant if Saddam had WMD or if they were moved to Syria or if he had none at all. We need to focus on Iraq and Iran and our next steps.

Of course if the only way you can move forward in your thinking is to blame somebody, let’s pick on J. Edgar Hoover. He is dead and cannot mount a retaliation. ( we hope)
Written By: Dale
URL: http://
What’s with all the anger? You got the war you wanted! Enjoy it!
Written By: Eric
URL: http://
Quite frankly Dale, I disagree ...

Mendacious MSM boosters, e.g. Jay Rosen over at PressThink like to pretend that the justification for the war is no longer a pertinent topic of discussion, even as a significant majority of the MSM works day and night to establish and shore up the narrative that the President deliberately used false Intelligence to send American soldiers to die in Iraq for some nefarious reason or other.

Most normal people can differentiate between Bush
"lying"/"misleading"/"manipulating"/"cherry-picking"/"exaggerating", and operating from honest belief. Most normal people would find no fault with the man who does the latter (especially if target is someone like Saddam Hussein) ... which, I guess, is why the American Press is desperate to convince the American people that the President did the former.

The point I’m making here is that the MSM is making it a big issue ... and considering their ideological bent, it would be foolish of supporters of the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to leave the field to them.
Written By: Martin A. Knight
URL: http://
Does anyone here know where I can get a copy of the so called "Dartmouth Plan" that’s being circulated and which is signed by a Publius? Last I checked, it wasn’t on Wikipedia, so I’m not even sure what it contains, but my understanding is that it has some interesting recommendations concerning Iraq and national economic policy. Thanks in advance!
Written By: Sara Jacobson
URL: http://
The Dartmouth Plan purports to address national security[18], voting, media, morality, health, economics and regional debates and strategies designed to further progressive policy outcomes in the institutions of government in the United States. The plan stresses voter registration efforts to register millions of eligible voters who did not vote in the election of 2004 as well as public opinion formation strategies[19], particularly in the South[[20]], Texas[[21]] and Houston[[22]][[23]] for the purpose of creating the "more perfect Union" invoked in the Preamble[[24]] to the United States Constitution[[25]]. The Dartmouth Plan attaches a lengthy "Distribution List" of numerous organizations and individuals working through the Democratic Party or independently in furtherance of progressive objectives. The plan also attaches an "Exhibit A" of the 1998 fatwa[[26]], issued by Osama bin Laden[[27]], illustrating the precedence given in the overall analysis to an effective national security strategy as an important component of a comprehensive, long-term strategy to place progressives in leadership roles in state and federal government. The authorship of the plan is unclear, but it is signed by a "Publius"[[28]].
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
No hint about where it is on the internet. I would guess it is a closely guarded secret. Much like the Democrats agenda of ideas.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Want to see another example of short attention span...
Is The 2005 Priest Story A Fraud?

Update: In 2002 the WaPo called the International detention (prison) story vital - in 2005 they quote another official calling it a burden. In 2002 they informed people that Clinton initiated the practice of extraordinary rendition. In 2005, they made it look like a creation of George Bush.

What changed? And what did Dana Priest know and when did she know it? Evidently, not a terribly great deal changed from 2002 to 2005, given that many details of the program the WaPo broke in 2005 were actually published through a group reported piece in the WaPo in 2002.

And the most significant change over the years was the spin around the story. None of the balance, or support for the program reported in 2002 appears in the 2005 version. What was once a very pro-America, pro-GWOT story was spun around into a damning critique of the Bush administration. Apparently that gets more buzz and wins Pulitzers while simply reporting the news in 2002 went mostly un-noticed.

Also keep in mind that many countries and the EU have investigated this and claim there were no such international facilities. Whether that is true or not is debatable. But the WaPo entirely ignored, not only their own 2002 story but any subsequent criticism and denial, as well. The Thai PM also called for a retraction in late 2005, which went largely unnoticed by the MSM in the US.

He said news stories run by foreign media were not always accurate and it was possible that some were published with a hidden agenda.

Some excerpts comparing the two stories:

2002 Unarchived Headline: Torture Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas

2005 Pulitzer Headline: CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons

Unarchived in 2002: sits a cluster of metal shipping containers protected by a triple layer of concertina wire. The containers hold the most valuable prizes in the war on terrorism

Pulitzer in 2005: The agency shoved its highest-value prisoners into metal shipping containers set up on a corner of the Bagram Air Base, which was surrounded with a triple perimeter of concertina-wire fencing.

Unarchived in 2002: In other cases, usually involving lower-level captives, the CIA hands them to foreign intelligence services — notably those of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco — with a list of questions the agency wants answered. These "extraordinary renditions" are done without resort to legal process and usually involve countries with security services known for using brutal means.

Pulitzer in 2005: A second tier — which these sources believe includes more than 70 detainees — is a group considered less important, with less direct involvement in terrorism and having limited intelligence value. These prisoners, some of whom were originally taken to black sites, are delivered to intelligence services in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Afghanistan and other countries, a process sometimes known as "rendition."

Unarchived in 2002: In the multifaceted global war on terrorism waged by the Bush administration, one of the most opaque — yet vital — fronts is the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects. U.S. officials have said little publicly about the captives’ names, numbers or whereabouts, and virtually nothing about interrogation methods.

Pulitzer in 2005: The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

Unarchived in 2002: U.S. officials who defend the renditions say the prisoners are sent to these third countries not because of their coercive questioning techniques, but because of their cultural affinity with the captives. Besides being illegal, they said, torture produces unreliable information from people who are desperate to stop the pain.

Pulitzer in 2005: It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://

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