Associated Press Spins the News

The Associated Press is one of the most consistent sources of left-wing media bias. Today, AP reporter Dafna Linzer, who has for some months mounted a one-person attack on President Bush, specializing in Iraq’s “missing” weapons of mass destruction, authored this piece: “No Evidence Iraq Stockpiled Smallpox”. The article reports the conclusion of a three-month search for weaponized smallpox in Iraq which, thankfully, didn’t find any.
On its face, the fact that smallpox germs are apparently not floating around Iraq would seem to be cause for relief if not rejoicing; but in the twisted world of the Associated Press, this good news has only one significance: it represents an opportunity to attack the Bush administration.
Of course, Bush never said that Saddam was cultivating smallpox; but the AP never lets small details like this get in the way. Linzer writes:
“The negative smallpox findings reported to U.S. intelligence agencies come nearly six months after the administration went to war to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam long denied having and the military hasn’t been able to find.” Just in case anyone missed the point. Saddam was innocent! But that’s not all: “Smallpox fears were part of the case the Bush administration used to build support for invading Iraq,” Linzer says. Actually, here is what President Bush said on the subject of biological warfare in his speech on the danger posed by Iraq, delivered on October 7, 2002:
“In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq’s military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions. We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.” So: anthrax, yes; mustard gas, yes; sarin and VX, yes. No mention of smallpox. Actually, Bush’s speech is still up on the White House web site. Reporters should refer to it from time to time.
The only Bush administration official actually cited by the AP as hyping the danger of Iraqi smallpox is Vice President Cheney: “On Sunday, Cheney said two trailers discovered in Iraq could have been used to make smallpox. The vice president referred to the trailers as ‘mobile biological facilities’ – a characterization that has been disputed by intelligence analysts within two U.S. government agencies that believe the trailers were used to fill weather balloons.” In fact, both the CIA and DIA have said they are convinced the trailers were designed to produce biological toxins. The dissenting, “weather balloon” theory comes from a minuscule intelligence group working within the State Department, which has a history of being as anti-Republican as the Associated Press.
And what Cheney actually said was that the mobile labs “can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing a capacity for an attack.” So the apparent absence of stocks of smallpox is not at all inconsistent with Cheney’s characterization.
Despite having written the smallpox article for the sole purpose of trying to discredit President Bush, Linzer can’t help acknowledging facts which negate the political point of the article. Such as:
“Some Iraqi scientists interviewed clearly had the know-how and expertise to produce smallpox, honed through years of work with similar viruses….U.N. inspectors suspected Iraq could have been working on smallpox or already had it. There was an outbreak of smallpox in the country in 1972, and Iraq admitted it had been producing the vaccine into the 1980s….Tests on Iraqi soldiers captured during the 1991 Gulf War found that some had been vaccinated for smallpox. And Iraq admitted to U.N. inspectors in the 1990s that its biological weapons scientists worked with camelpox, a close relative of the smallpox virus. Working with camelpox would give Iraq a way to perfect techniques for making smallpox without endangering the researchers.”
Oh. Okay. So the bottom line is that Iraq had unquestionably produced smallpox toxins in the past and had, up until the beginning of the last war, both the technical expertise and the physical capacity to produce smallpox germs. And this is an argument for why we should have left Saddam Hussein in power?


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