Patterico's Pontifications


When Sought = Bought

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:20 am

The Washington Post performs some fancy sleight of hand this morning. But if you watch closely, you can see how the trick is done. I dropped a hint in the quote below; see if you can find it.

It was 3 a.m. in Italy on Jan. 29, 2003, when President Bush in Washington began reading his State of the Union address that included the now famous — later retracted — 16 words: “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Like most Europeans, Elisabetta Burba, an investigative reporter for the Italian newsweekly Panorama, waited until the next day to read the newspaper accounts of Bush’s remarks. But when she came to the 16 words, she recalled, she got a sudden sinking feeling in her stomach. She wondered: How could the American president have mentioned a uranium sale from Africa?

How indeed?

Am I being cynical to assume that this is deliberate — just because this Page A01 article helps the reporter sell his new book? Maybe he has some reading block that makes the word “sought” look like the word “bought.” Maybe the “s” really looks like a “b” to him.

He wouldn’t be the first reporter who can’t spot B.S. when he sees it.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has more along the same lines.

UPDATE x2: So, as it happens, does Justin Levine . . . immediately above.

5 Responses to “When Sought = Bought”

  1. I was blogging about this last night, not only did they change sought to bought but the reporter also provided no context regarding the previous reports of Iraq seeking uranium in africa. I tried to pin him down on the lack of context today in the Washington Post live chat but he ended the chat because he was out of time.

    Chad (719bfa)

  2. Thank you for pointing out that misleading phrasing.

    Bradley J. Fikes (413667)

  3. We must have been composing our respective posts at the same time. Synchroncity is a weird concept…

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  4. Josh Marshall on the Butler Report.
    (more here)

    and here

    eRiposte @ Firedoglake [links in original]

    Two important facts regarding the British and U.S. Governments’ uranium allegations have not been adequately brought to light by any U.S. Congressional investigations or media reports to date.

    (a) The British Government’s uranium from Africa (Niger) claim was always based on intelligence which alleged that uranium had been bought. However, the British Government changed the wording of the claim to “sought” in September 2002 – likely to avoid direct linkage with the forged Niger documents that claimed that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger. After the alteration of the wording, the Blair administration conducted a years-long fraudulent masquerade in which they continued to insist that their claim was based on intel that only alleged uranium had been “sought”, that the intel was not about a uranium purchase and that it was not linked to the Niger forgeries.

    (b) The U.S. Government’s uranium from Africa (Niger) claim was also based on intelligence which alleged that uranium had been bought. However, the U.S. Government changed the wording of the claim to “sought” over a period of several months in early-to-mid 2002 to downplay the intel owing to its obvious dubiousness (its origins from the nonsense in the Niger forgeries). Despite this, the Bush administration pushed a fraudulent revisionist story in 2003 and beyond, namely, that the original intel only alleged that uranium had been “sought”. This was done partly to paint former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in negative light (by claiming that Wilson’s trip supported the Bush administration’s claim) and partly to distance themselves from the claims in the Niger forgeries.

    Why This Matters: The wording of the uranium claim is very important because it was used as a semantic weapon by the Bush and Blair administrations to repeatedly deceive the public – in order to prevent wider recognition of the one-to-one link between their uranium allegations and the forged Niger documents. The “sought” wording was also a strategic weapon for the White House because it allowed the Bush administration to insert Joseph Wilson’s trip into the mix and falsely assert that Wilson’s trip provided proof for their claim that Iraq sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa (more on this in Sec. 4 below).


    AF (c319c8)

  5. Conned or con man?…

    On National Public Radio on Wednesday afternoon, NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr had this to say (hyperlinks and emphasis mine): [Elisabetta] Burba is a reporter for an Italian news magazine that provided the American embassy in Rome with one of …

    BeldarBlog (72c8fd)

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