There’s a cynical old saying that the victors write the history. CBS’s “60 Minutes” demonstrated how that process works on Jan. 27 in airing Scott Pelley’s interview with the FBI agent who de-briefed former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In a world of objective reality, a reporter might say that the United States launched an unprovoked invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, under the false pretense that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, even after Iraq had repeatedly – and accurately – announced that its WMD had been destroyed in the 1990s.
On Dec. 7, 2002, Iraq even sent to the United Nations a 12,000-page declaration explaining how its WMD stockpiles had been eliminated. In fall 2002, Hussein’s government also allowed teams of U.N. inspectors into Iraq and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.
Those inspections only ended in March 2003 when President George W. Bush decided to press ahead with war despite the U.N. Security Council’s refusal to authorize the invasion and its desire to give the U.N. inspectors time to finish their work.
But none of that reality is part of the history that Americans are supposed to know. The officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, is that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the U.N. over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons.
In line with Bush’s version of history, “60 Minutes” correspondent Pelley asked FBI interrogator George Piro why Hussein kept pretending that he had WMD even as U.S. troops massed on Iraq’s borders, when a simple announcement that the WMD was gone would have prevented the war.
“For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley said in introducing the segment on the interrogation of Hussein about his WMD stockpiles. “Why did he choose war with the United States?”
The segment never mentions the fact that Hussein’s government did disclose that it had eliminated its WMD. Instead Pelley presses Piro on the question of why Hussein was hiding that fact.
Piro said Hussein explained to him that “most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ‘90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.”
“So,” Pelley asked, “why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?”
After Piro mentioned Hussein’s lingering fear of neighboring Iran, Pelley felt he was close to an answer to the mystery: “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?”
Wanting an Invasion?
But, still, Pelley puzzled over why Hussein’s continued in his miscalculation.
Pelley asked: “As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction,’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?”
It’s Bush World, with Pelley – like other prominent U.S. news correspondents – ignoring the well-established facts of the run-up to war and following the made-up story first presented by Bush four months after he forced the U.N. inspectors out, when he began claiming that Hussein had never let them in.punditman says: Facts are facts, regardless of the myths and propaganda perpetrated by the media gatekeepers.