“Hunger”-ing for the Facts

An alert reader pointed out to us that, in reviewing an upcoming CIA report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, or lack thereof, Aparna Kumar of the Associated Press writes: “The administration cited Saddam’s hunger for such weapons as a main reason to invade Iraq last year.”

We’re hardly the first to note this, but it’s worth repeating every time reporters get this wrong: It wasn’t just Saddam’s “hunger” for WMD that the administration cited as a reason for war. It was his alleged possession of WMD.

To take one of many examples: In August of 2002, Vice President Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention that, “there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.”

The Iraq war, including why and how we began it, is shaping up to be perhaps the single most important issue in this campaign. It’s a murky situation for both press and public, with the sands shifting under our feet almost daily. But there is one island of clarity, and that’s who said what publicly, and when.

There’s no excuse for getting that wrong.


Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.