It Helps to Read Past the Headline…

…of this report by NBC on the CIA’s secret source within Saddam’s inner circle: Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. The headline and subhead read: “Iraqi diplomat gave U.S. prewar WMD details. Saddam’s foreign minister told CIA the truth, so why didn’t agency listen?

You have to read deep into the story to learn that Sabri told the CIA that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons:

Sabri said Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had “poison gas” left over from the first Gulf War. Both Sabri and the agency were wrong.

So NBC had a legitimate scoop, and they buried it in a single sentence beneath a grotesquely misleading headline.

Obviously, if Saddam’s Foreign Minister admitted that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and leftover poison gas, that would have been seen as the final confirmation of what everyone in the intelligence community already believed. And Sabri’s statement that Saddam “desperately wanted a [nuclear bomb]” but would need more than a few months to a year to build one–bizarrely presented as exculpatory by NBC–would hardly have been reassuring.

It’s worth noting, too, that NBC’s story is based on leaks by anonymous intelligence officials, who, consistent with their usual practice, no doubt spun the story in as anti-Bush a direction as they could. We don’t know exactly what Sabri told the CIA.

By rights, this should be the last nail in the coffin of the “Bush lied!” left. But of course it won’t be; the “Bush lied!” theory has been deader than a doornail for a long time, but that hasn’t prevented it from being retailed by the left.

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