April 6, 2003
Where are those chemical weapons? An Example of Media Bias in CNN Reporting

William Schneider, Senior Political Analyst of CNN, just proffered several reasons why many of the doom and gloom scenarios in Iraq have not come true. These involved the possible use of chemical and biological agents on U.S. troops, blowing up bridges, etc. One of the prime scenarios involved the use of chemical weapons. Schneider opined that the reason these agents have not been used may be because the command and control structure of the Iraqi resistance has been severely damaged (and there are certainly indications of that), or (and he placed special emphasis on this) that those in charge had been scared pantsless by George W's threat to try those who use them after the war as war criminals. Schneider thus seemed to highlight Bush's tough talk as a possible major factor in the Iraqi failure to use non-conventional weapons while completely ignoring the more plausible explanation that these weapons simply do not exist in the quantities or manner which Bush and his pals would like us to believe. That these weapons may not exist now is certainly more credible than that idea that Iraqi forces -- who seem bent on genuinely resisting the invasion -- would refrain from using weapons available to them because of the threat of trial. In a war where people are willing to blow themselves up to eliminate the invaders, it is difficult to accept the premise that these same people would be afraid of a little American jail time.

I'm not saying that Hussein does not have these weapons. I'm saying that the complete omission of a news commentator -- who holds himself out as special "analyst" (meaning a guy who speculates about stuff based on a couple of rumors and sometimes facts, just like you and me) and reporter -- is unforgiveable. Not mentioning the option -- that Hussein has less of these weapons than we had believed -- can only be demonstrable of conservative bias; especially since no chemical weapons have yet been found anywhere so far. (The many boxes of "suspicious" white powder found in a chemical factory -- reported with great gusto by every American news media outlet -- have been tested; intial tests indicate that they are "not chemicals," according to a CNN banner. I have to ask, if they are not chemicals, what are they? Talc? Chalk? Concrete dust?)

It is exceptionally surprising that no chemical weapons have been found, in light of the American intelligence which reported in the 48 hours preceding the war that there were strong indications that Republican Guard units southeast of Baghdad -- controlled by the famed Iraqi Commander nicknamed "Chemical Ali" -- had been supplied with them, and in light of our allegations that Hussein had them. Certainly, one would think that the goal of the Iraqi military would be defend Baghdad with whatever weapons they could find.

Schneider also opined that perhaps Hussein would be afraid to use chemical weapons in this war because of the "proganda" tool using them would hand the U.S. Look, if Hussein has these weapons, when would he use them if not now? After his exile or death? Does Schneider really think Hussein is more worried about how it would look than about staying in power? Hussein has been comfortable with getting caught in a lie or two before.

And then there is the interesting (and convenient) rumor circulating (Schneider said nothing about this) that Hussein moved his WMD to Syria so we would not find them when we invaded. This certainly is plausible as a convenient excuse to invade Syria later ("Look! Another dictatorship that harbors terroists that has WMD! And it's right over there! We must invade today!) but not believable in the context of common sense. I find it hard to accept the notion that someone who goes to the trouble to get WMD to stay in power and to increase his power would give away the very weapons that might help him retain his power on the eve of an invasion of his country.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:12 AM in Commentary