Patterico's Pontifications

2/25/2007

L.A. Times Won’t Correct Clear Error on “Sixteen Words” Mischaracterization

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

This post sets forth the exchange of e-mails between me and the L.A. Times “Readers’ Representative” regarding the paper’s misstatement of Bush’s famous “sixteen words” from his 2003 State of the Union speech.

The background is here. In short, the paper recently claimed:

In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush said Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger . . .

When it is indisputable, as a factual matter, that he did not say that.

Here is the exchange of e-mails. Enjoy.

Jamie,

An infobox to a story today (2-21-07) titled “Libby’s memory is at the heart of the case” says:

In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush said Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger, in West Africa.

No, he didn’t. The “sixteen words” were:

The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

The word “Niger” does not appear in that speech. And Africa has a lot of countries. Some, like the Congo, sell uranium.

Bush didn’t say Iraq sought uranium “from Niger.” The infobox claims he did. I think a correction is in order.

Patrick Frey

The response:

Hi, Patrick.

Thanks for the comment.

The events that have unfolded in the years since the president made that speech make clear what he was referring to with those 16 words. That sentence does not need correction.

Jamie Gold
Readers’ Representative

Usually, I let it go with one e-mail, but I had to respond to that one.

Two questions.

1) Is it L.A. Times policy that it’s OK to claim somebody “said” something they didn’t really say . . . as long as you’re pretty sure you know what they meant?

It’s a relevant question because, in the months before Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech, there was considerable speculation about other African countries (in particular the Congo) negotiating the sale of uranium to Iraq. I sent you the link in the first e-mail, but Bob Somerby quoted the Guardian as saying in September 2002:

Iraqi agents have been negotiating with criminal gangs in the Democratic Republic of Congo to trade Iraqi military weapons and training for high-grade minerals, possibly including uranium, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian.

It comes as the dossier unveiled by Tony Blair accused Saddam Hussein of trying to buy African uranium to give Iraq’s weapons programme a nuclear capability. The dossier did not identify any country allegedly approached by Baghdad but security analysts said the Congo was the likeliest, followed by South Africa.

Somerby quotes several other British papers making similar claims at the time.

2) If I may, let me explore how far you’re willing to take the “close enough” principle. Bush said in the 2003 SOTU: “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Would it also be okay to change “sought” to “may have purchased”?

Because your paper did that, in October 2005: “On July 6, Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times that cast doubt on President Bush’s statement that Iraq may have purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger.” (“Libby Allegedly Told a Whopper,” October 29, 2005.)

So “sought . . . from Africa” (Bush’s speech) becomes “may have purchased . . . from Niger” (LAT).

Close enough?

Patrick

I have received no response, and somehow don’t think I will.

71 Responses to “L.A. Times Won’t Correct Clear Error on “Sixteen Words” Mischaracterization”

  1. Unreal, the intellectual laziness of the LAT.

    Jal (926a19)

  2. MSM Style and Tactic Sheet directions:

    “When caught in a bald-faced lie, place hands over ears and intone “lalalalalalala…I can’t hear you” for as long as necessary.

    Bill M (afe2c3)

  3. The White House stipulated Bush meant Niger in his SOTU reference.

    “As I said in the briefing on Friday, that the recollection — and Steve Hadley is here to talk at more length about this — that his own recollection of the conversation we reported between himself and Director Tenet was focused on the fact of the single sourcing of the 550 tons of uranium from Africa, which was Niger, and that there was a concern about the sourcing, the single sourcing in a speech like this. And that’s what I explained then; it’s what other administration officials explained.”

    – Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director (July 22, 2003)

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/07/20030722-12.html

    National Security Adviser Steven Hadley told the same press gaggle of “British reporting on attempts by Iraq to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide from Africa, which I understood to involve Niger.”

    steve (babbee)

  4. I think steve has got you there, Patterico. I don’t disagree with nitpicking on errors, but it’s pretty clear that Bush meant Niger. If the LAT had put Niger in quotation marks, then an error would be warranted, since they would be stating that he said it literally. Are you seriously going to go on a English-professor like rampage and argue that when the word “said” is used, it must never refer to a paraphrase? There are better, actually legit causes for you to fight for.

    Mike (97b804)

  5. Hey, at least you’re not gonna run out of material for your annual LADT report.

    Funny how they never paraphrased President Clinton quite the same way with the whole “meant”=”said” thing, e.g.:

    “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinski.” (actual quote)

    would become:

    In February 1998, President Clinton said he would stonewall the investigation of his relationship with Lewinski to avoid possible impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.

    LagunaDave (cb0e49)

  6. The events that have unfolded in the years since the president made that speech make clear what he was referring to with those 16 words.

    Those unfolding events are mostly the MSM’s shameless willingness to lie and falsify the record.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  7. “The events that have unfolded in the years since the president made that speech make clear what he was referring to with those 16 words. That sentence does not need correction.”

    Translation: “We hate him and we’ll say any lie we want about him.”

    nk (79f144)

  8. LagunaDave’s comment is brilliant.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  9. It would seem that CBS has set the standard for acceptable journalism.

    “The events that have unfolded in the years since the president made that speech make clear what he was referring to with those 16 words. That sentence does not need correction.”

    Certainly sounds like the Fake But Accurate defense.

    Stephen Macklin (68591a)

  10. interesting article in today’s sf chronicle on the ethics of prosecutorial blogging:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/25/MNG2DOATDG1.DTL

    several bloggin’ cal da’s were mentioned, but not patterico, which i thought to be a serious oversight. i don’t think any of the ethical qualms cited apply to patterico, who doesn’t discuss his pending cases or release info from his defendants’ rap sheets. apparently, dislike of the media is a common thread: kern county da ed jagels kicked off his blog with an attack on the bakersfield californian entitled “every lie they print”. in response to an advisory opinion by former ag bill lockyer that prosecutors can’t release defendant info, tom newton, the general counsel of the california newspaper publishers association wistfully speculates that maybe there’s something in the opinion that can prevent prosecutors from blogging, hoo-hah, and maybe there’s also something in the opinion that will enable me to pull solid gold coins out of my ass.

    assistant devil's advocate (8d724e)

  11. steve,

    I am aware of your facts.

    Since I’m unlikely to hear from Jamie Gold again, perhaps you can stand in for her as a representative of the news media, and answer the two questions posed in my final e-mail at the end of the post.

    Mike,

    Are you really comfortable with giving newspapers license to put words in your mouth? Note that, not only did “Africa” become “Niger” but on another occasion “sought” became “may have purchased” — and in other news stories over the years has been reported simply as “bought” or “purchased.”

    Words mean things. “Said” means said — not “meant.” “Sought” means sought — not “bought.” If we let the LAT get away with this, they are free to insert any old thing in your mouth they like. That’s not defensible, and that’s why I think Jamie Gold won’t be responding further.

    Patterico (c34894)

  12. As this April 18, 2006 post from Powerline shows from the Butler Report, the 16 words were true, not only with respect to Africa in general, but as to both Niger and the Congo.

    Tim K (cf3f46)

  13. ada,

    Interesting article.

    I’m perfectly happy to have been overlooked by it.

    It’s clear that the article relates mainly to prosecutors using the blog to be prosecutors — to argue about their cases, etc. Which I don’t do.

    There are many great stories I don’t tell on this blog because I don’t want to discuss pending cases and the like. For example, disclosing a defendant’s rap sheet is obviously not kosher.

    Now, in high-publicity cases where someone has been convicted and certain priors have been proved up or admitted in court, I can see referencing that, because it’s public information. But I always stay very far from the line and just don’t discuss my cases. I think the only time I ever did was to give a couple of examples, using publicly available info, of third-strikers in the Prop. 66 debate.

    Jagels is the D.A. of his county and I’m not, but even if I were the D.A. I’d be leery of putting my opinions on the County web site. (Btw, I’ve been critical of Jagels in the past, if memory serves.)

    This is something I do on my own time, about topics that I have the right to speak about as a citizen under the First Amendment. I know that people in my Administration are aware of the blog. When I published my first piece in the L.A. Times, my Head Deputy was telling me how he was sitting with another administrator and the administrator’s brother, who is a cop. The brother/cop asked both of them whether they had seen this blog by a D.A. They all got on the computer and my Head Deputy learned it was mine.

    He said as long as I have the disclaimer on the side, it’s all First Amendment stuff and there’s no problem.

    It’s a bit of a tightrope I walk, just because I always have yahoos saying things like “How come this guy is blogging on County time or resources?” (I’m not) or “I can’t believe someone as illogical/stupid/dishonest as you is a prosecutor!” (translation: you disagree with me politically and therefore are illogical/stupid/dishonest. Note to the public: there are prosecutors of all political stripes. You won’t agree with all of them because you couldn’t. That doesn’t make us bad at our jobs.).

    My one rule is that I don’t allow people to make flip comments about how I’m unsuited to be a prosecutor. Neville Chamberlain is gone because he insisted on questioning my ethics when I discussed an L.A. Weekly article that mentioned in passing a pending case — about which I have no knowledge, said I have no knowledge, and explicitly said (in addition to the disclaimer) that I was speaking as a private citizen. I told him to stop saying things like that or I’d ban him. I didn’t have to ban him; he left. I guess he felt offended that he couldn’t impugn my professional integity for a B.S. reason, and he hasn’t been back. Don’t miss him.

    Anyway, thanks for the link. I don’t think I’ll comment on it beyond this comment, but it’s interesting.

    Patterico (c34894)

  14. ada,

    I’ll add that I wasn’t necessarily “overlooked” because the article does, in fact, clearly deal with D.A.s who blog as D.A.s, about their cases.

    That doesn’t describe me. I’m just a D.A. who happens to blog — and is open about my name and job because I don’t want people to think they can blackmail me by threatening to “out” me.

    Patterico (c34894)

  15. As this April 18, 2006 post from Powerline shows from the Butler Report, the 16 words were true, not only with respect to Africa in general, but as to both Niger and the Congo.

    Tim, I think the Administration was too hasty in backing away from the 16 words claim.

    But either way, Bush didn’t say Niger in the speech — just like he didn’t say “may have purchased.”

    Patterico (c34894)

  16. Patterico,

    I completely agree with your point. It just irritates me that some are still trying to argue that Bush lied in his SOTU speech, and that his administration retaliated against Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame when Wilson bravely spoke truth to power. In fact, Wilson was a liar who misrepresented what his own “investigation” showed.

    Tim K (cf3f46)

  17. The paper said Bush said Niger In his January 2003 State of the Union address. They chose to cite a specific speech. He did not say that in the speech they referred to. The article is clearly in error.

    If a paper thought he meant Niger, they could have said so. Jamie Gold has revealed that the LAT will report as fact not what people actually say but what the paper thinks they mean, and that the LAT has no intention of notifying the public that what was reported was actually the paper’s opinion.

    Amphipolis (fb9e95)

  18. The worst of it isn’t the “Niger”, it’s the “for nuclear weapons”.

    It’s a grave concern that the uranium Saddam is seeking will be used for nuclear weapons and Bush says Saddam has a lot to answer for.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  19. It must feel like tilting at windmills to talk to the LA Times about corrections.

    DRJ (605076)

  20. By that I meant that it was represented as a grave concern and not a foregone conclusion. The Times says Bush represented it as a foregone conclusion.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  21. I think there’s even one more abuse that’s also important: the leaving out of “the British government has learned”. I.E. He didn’t say, in the speech, that he knew because he knew personally or because our agents had told him, but the Brits. Small but crucial point as well.

    Anwyn (a130c1)

  22. Sir, you are going around in circles.

    Bob Somerby [dailyhowler.com] adduces Mark Huband’s June 28, 2004 Financial Times report. But Huband revealed several days later that, “the same information was passed to the US but US officials did not incorporate it in their assessment.”

    Intelligence that suggested Iraq was covertly shopping around for uranium in the Congo was also flawed. National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton confirmed this, saying, “other reporting that suggested that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from Africa [was] not detailed or specific enough for us to be certain that such attempts were in fact made. Because of this lack of specificity,” he continued, “this reporting alone did not rise to the level of inclusion in a presidential speech…”

    George Bush was wrong to ignore his own intelligence services. If the British had disagreed, would he then have proceeded to the next country downwind until he could finally say to the American people: “The Hungarian Government has learnt that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa?”

    smb1971 (be597c)

  23. The “uranium for nuclear weapons” scenario gave many grave concern. It was intended to. Steven Hadley, in the above-referenced briefing, said the CIA months earlier (October 5-6) had told the Administration of “some weakness in the evidence, the fact that the effort [to buy yellowcake] was not particularly significant to Iraq’s nuclear ambitions because the Iraqis already had a large stock of uranium oxide in their inventory.”

    Hadley’s offer to resign was rejected. Tenet’s was accepted.

    steve (8f3e6c)

  24. Jamie is a round person in a round room, tough to corner, but when you do, she disappears.

    This pisses me off enough to almost wish that I hadn’t cancelled my subscription two years ago, just so I could do it again.

    PC14 (9e9f3c)

  25. steve,

    I asked you a couple of questions up the thread. I’d be interested in your answers.

    Patterico (c34894)

  26. “Recently sought” and “may have purchased” are incommodious back-references. If you’re trying to show a pattern of careless or inaccurate phrasing, that’s a good exhibit.

    steve (8f3e6c)

  27. If the British had disagreed, would he then have proceeded to the next country downwind

    What? You mean you don’t believe the French?

    Regardless, only a Faux Liberal mind can convert “Bush was wrong about Niger” into “Saddam was not intent on developing WMD’s”.

    Bush was not wrong. But if he was, even Saddam believed him.

    J. Peden (a4cb4a)

  28. “Recently sought” and “may have purchased” are incommodious back-references. If you’re trying to show a pattern of careless or inaccurate phrasing, that’s a good exhibit.

    steve, you’re the Readers’ Rep. Do you correct either story (the recent one or the October 2005 one)?

    If the answer to either is no, can you articulate the principle at work? I.e., it’s OK to claim somebody “said” something they didn’t really say, as long as you’re pretty sure you know what they meant.

    Patterico (c34894)

  29. 1. I think Pat’s got ’em. It’s a small thing, but accuracy matters. It’s pretty easy to get the Times’ point across without being textually inaccurate.

    2. Ken Lammers briefly blogged as a prosecutor. I think you could do a prosecutorial blog, but you’d have to stay far, far away from pending cases. I actually think it would be worthwhile for the public; I see enough comments from people who ought to know better who think the prosecutor’s job is to convict everyone.

    And, I note that Pat *has* made some prosecution-related comments here, motherthanking Mr. Nifong. That seems appropriate and helpful to public discourse.

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  30. Strictly speaking Pat you are right. Bush did mention British intelligence made this claim however the Times position, I am guessing, is that by quoting that in his speech along with other similar such intelligence Bush in effect gave it his endorsement.

    Kind of like my convincing you to invest in a stock by saying “my neighbor has learned that stock x is about to really fly” Now did I actually say I thought it was going to fly? Strictly speaking No but in actual fact and given the context I did imply that I believed it. Its just a clever way Bush has of deceiving and then denying. He’s good at that..long years of drinking and practice denying helped perfect his talents I am sure.

    If any apologies are made it ought to be from Bush who was too lazy or stupid or whatever to bother to check the facts regarding WMDs or what an occupation would be like and who didnt want to give the UN or IATC more time in Iraq now that they were finally making progress. Yes I know Sadam did delay for a long time but he was yielding and Bush priority should be to think of the men and women in harms way and not his chance to be a wartime President. Of course, he can always depend on the Sean Hannities and the like to twist and defend and make excuses for him.

    Interestingly, Bush’s entire extended family has not one person fighting in this “noble war” in Iraq and in 1991 Cheney said “I think for us to get American military personel involved in a civil war in Iraq would literaly be a quagmire..It makes no sense at all”

    Meanwhile, Bush and Cheney live in million dollar houses while some returning Vets live in rat infested hell holes awating treatment. This is hardly what I call “Supporting the Troops” and the main beneficiary of Bush stupidity and arrogance is clearly Iran.

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  31. If the answer to either is no, can you articulate the principle at work?

    Freedom of the Press!

    It includes “the audacious distortion of reality in order to reveal a higher truth”, don’t cha know? Hasn’t Hiltzik himself proven it to us all?

    J. Peden (a4cb4a)

  32. J. Peen wrote: “What? You mean you don’t believe the French?”

    The French firmly deny that they are the source of the claim.

    “French Told CIA of Bogus Intelligence”
    http://tinyurl.com/ytkc55

    smb1971 (be597c)

  33. My congratulations to you, Charlie Brown: apparently now you are at least 16 years behind the curve!

    Keep digging and singing, “Why’s everybody always picking on me?”

    He goes to eat at the Ritz
    Big steaks
    That’s the breaks
    We eat a hominy grits
    From a bag
    What a drag…

    He’s a Devil with the women
    But they all call him a Saint

    Some cats got it
    And some cats ain’t, Charlie

    Coasters

    J. Peden (a4cb4a)

  34. Strictly speaking Pat you are right.

    You should have stopped right there, Charlie. You wouldn’t make nearly such a fool of yourself if you would just sometimes ignore your id. You will recall you attempted to tackle this subject yesterday and failed miserably then, too.

    Your commenting hallmark seems to be that you’re unwilling to debate the facts that your ideological opponents link to in order to bolster their arguments.

    Rather, you feel impelled to tell the world how much you hate Bush, Cheney, et al. Fine. We understand you. You don’t like Republicans.

    Having stipulated that, do you actually have any facts to add to the discussion? Any rebuttals or ripostes that exclude pointing out how completely ogreish Bush is for living in a multi-million dollar house owned by … the people of the United States?

    Your half-baked attacks such as “…in 1991 Cheney said …” are absolutely without merit. So what if he did? In 1991 I was still voting mostly for Democrats, I guess it just shows that 1) Some of us make better decisions as we grow older and 2) Situations in the real world change – sometimes in as little as ten years!

    Imagine that.

    Look Charlie, it’s not personal; I just enjoy reading P’s blog and the tone and timbre of the comments therein are usually quite thoughtful and challenging.

    Until someone like you comes along.

    Abraxas (db3144)

  35. Patrick,

    Nice to know that I’m not the only one that the LAT’s Readers’ Rep. clams up on when the goin’ gets rough! Thanks for keepin’ after ’em!

    OkieBoy (112216)

  36. You have to admire someone who not only believes the lie, but is willing to live the lie in their professional life. But, the inconvenient truth is, that a lie is just that: A Lie!
    Is there anyone at the LAT who is not a charter member of the LPOS club? And, if so, why are they still there?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  37. There is normally no license to clarify or value-add a presidential quote, but this paraphrasing seems exceptionally well grounded.

    Condoleezza Rice: “What we’ve said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn’t have put this in the President’s speech — but that’s knowing what we know now.” – July 11, 2003

    The final word on the 16 words may have to await history’s judgment. That they failed to specify a Niger postulate is Clintonian parsing, given that the people who prepared and vetted the speech disabuse us of any other interpretation.

    steve (2c1941)

  38. I think you are wasting a lot of time and that it is silly to use the corrections mechanism for arguments like this. Find something more meaningful and worthwhile. This is penny-ante.

    TCO (2dd0ef)

  39. Forgive me if I am simply repeating what has already been said. This discussion is going in many directions.

    The paragraph Steve selects from the Dan Bartlett press briefing does address reporting from Niger. But doesn’t the paragraph above it address reporting from the British on an unspecified African nation?

    The statement through several paragraphs seems to say that while Tenet expressed concerns about the single-sourced Niger intelligence that there were no similar concerns about British intelligence regarding, again, an unspecified African country.

    If I am not misreading this explanation from the White House on how the uranium comments made their way into the speech, this makes the L.A. look worse than simply taking a dig at the president. It makes them look way too uninformed to be briefing the public on what was intended in the SOTU speech, let alone what was actually said.

    w3 (853e72)

  40. Arbaxas You have it wrong. I do like Republicans and Conservatives as well.. its just liars and fascists I don’t like. Please don’t equate either one with Bush.. Talk with Joe Scarboro or any one of the many others who see Bush is all about power and bullshit..power for himself and his rich friends and bullshit for the rest of us.

    Regarding the quote, I assumed (Wrongly I will admit) the matter in question was the fact the LA Times did not mention it was British intelligence that was making those claims. I admit I did not notice the Niger /Africa misquote. My error. I admit it..

    HOWEVER the assumption that he was referring to Niger is valid because Secretary of State Powell had mentioned Niger specifically by name as being the country involved in a CBS Broadcast on 12/19/02. Niger was specifically identified as the country involved in George Tenents report along with Colin Powel again to the Senate Intelligence Committee and most tellingly it was the US Government itself in a report to the UN that identified the country in question as Niger just before the President spoke. Check it out..

    http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/16118.html

    So I think any fair minded person can conclude that Niger was the country in question.
    But now, apparently in an attempt to defend Bush, we are interpreting his words to mean other countries never mentioned. Just shows you how loyal the Bushies are!

    You think Bush tells the truth???!!!

    In the State of the Union address Bush claimed that Iraq was seeking to purchase aluminum tubes Bush said would be “suitable for nuclear weapons production.” But the Washington Post said former weapons inspectors and scientists doubted this claiming that the tubes would be difficult to use for uranium production something the Bush Cherry Pickers failed to mention. The Post also noted charges that the “Bush administration was trying to quiet dissent among its own analysts over how to interpret the evidence.” Trying to quiet dissent,.,. in other words “Cherry Pick the evidence he wanted to present to the people to sell his war and hide the rest. Disgusting to all decent people, don’t you agree? Think the Post is just a liberal rag? Well as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Where are those WMDs Bush piously and without smirking assured us were there?

    And the most outrageous lie of all….which I have mentioned here before.. Bush has misrepresented the history of the prewar conflict with Iraq over weapons inspections, telling reporters on July 14, “We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in.” In fact, after a Security Council resolution was passed demanding that Iraq allow inspectors in, they were given complete access to the country. Yes Sadam fought them at first but the end both the UN and the IAEC said they wanted to continue their work and they were making progress and it was BUSH THE LIAR WHO ORDERED THEM OUT THE DAY BEFORE HE INVADED. Check it out for yourself Arraxas..find the date the inspectors were taken out and notice it’s the day before the war began. How does he get away with such lies? Must be the liberal media…

    There is no question Bush is a liar and so is Cheney. They selectively quoted intelligence arguing the existence of WMDs, they lied about the role of the inspectors and who ordered them out, they used discredited sources from Iraqi resistance groups and a possible Iranian agent who wanted the US involved to build there case and they never told us about the suspect sources and in fact anyone who questioned them was tagged as unpatriotic and such.. (Not by people like you Abraxas I am sure!!)

    Bush has continually lied about the use of illegal wiretaps and mischaracterize the reasons for opposition to them. Cheney continued to use information about an alleged Iraqi agent meeting in Prague with Al Quida operatives long after the information had been discredited and even today continues to issue happy talk about the great successes in Iraq and STILL continues to insist this war has something to do with Al Quida and says if you dont support him then Al Quida will have achieved its objective ..

    You see criminals taking over governments in foreign countries and the people, like lemmings, going right along sending their sons and daughters of for some half assed reason. Don’t say it cant happen here because it already has. If you don’t get it now you never will.

    I have said enough. I don’t intend to debate these things will people with an agenda to support this lying bastard no matter what. I went through this in Vietnam and I don’t feel like banging my head against the wall again to reach the same kind of people fifty years later.
    Iran and Al Quida must love Bush..they are the biggest beneficiaries of his ..what ever you want to call it..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  41. I don’t intend to debate these things [with] people …

    Clearly not.

    Abraxas (db3144)

  42. And Clinton was a fountain of truth… riiiiiiiight

    It’s almost enough to make a guy give up on pointing out actual truth…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  43. Charlie,

    The most amazing thing about the Bush “lies” is that he got the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to unanimously buy into them years later. They determined that Bush was going on the same intelligence that convinced everyone else (including themselves and other prominent Democrats) that Saddam probably had WMDs.

    Further, he got the Senate Select Intelligence Committee to unanimously decide that Joe Wilson had been misleading in his public claims, and that Wilson’s report actually provided evidence which, although rather weak, tended to confirm that Iraq sought uranium from Niger.

    (Note that John Edwards was on this committee, and supported these conclusions.)

    “Bush lied” may sound good, and is easy to assert, but when responsible people have had to look and make detailed findings, they have come to a different conclusion.

    DWPittelli (87ad39)

  44. Couple of things.

    First, Clinton’s truthiness truthfulness has nothing to do with Bush’s. Bad argument there. Clinton could be a paragon of virtue, or he could be the devil himself — either way, you could not logically conclude anything about Bush.

    Second, although I agree that Bush was most likely referring to Niger, the simple fact remains that that’s not what he said! Gah! All it would take would one sentence of explanation after the accurate quote. “‘… quantities of uranium from Africa,’ Bush said. A White House official later made it clear that the speech referred to Niger. Ambassador Wilson …”

    That’s all it would take. Accurate reporting, and your article is only a sentence longer. Maybe if you need to, you can quote the White House official. But if you actually cared about getting the facts right, that’s how you’d do it.

    Robin Munn (ae85d4)

  45. to me it would be OK if it was reported that Pres.Bush in the speech indicated Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger

    but using the word said is just plain wrong.
    Then again, isn’t the LAT on the papers that reports that Pres.Bush declared Iraq was an imminent threat to the USA ?

    seePea (38fcb2)

  46. Charlie resembles a few people I know. Bad case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. I especially like the phony claims, “I do like Republicans and Conservatives as well”. The error by Bush was to backtrack on the 16 words when they were completely defensible. Iraq sent a trade mission headed by a nuclear expert. No doubt they were there to buy onions.

    Bush has been a failure at communicating his message and it has cost us dearly. Phonies like Charlie have gotten license from his failure to communicate.

    Mike K (416363)

  47. steve,

    I asked you another question, which I’m sure you saw, but which you don’t seem to want to answer. Let me ask it again.

    In October 2005: the L.A. Times published the following passage:

    On July 6, Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times that cast doubt on President Bush’s statement that Iraq may have purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger.

    (”Libby Allegedly Told a Whopper,” October 29, 2005.)

    Bush said “sought” and the L.A. Times said “may have purchased.”

    Correction necessary? Or no?

    Patterico (c34894)

  48. Then again, isn’t the LAT on the papers that reports that Pres.Bush declared Iraq was an imminent threat to the USA ?

    SeePea:

    You are right on the money. The L.A. Times wrote:

    [C]ontrary to what Bush said in a previous State of the Union speech, we now know the threat posed by Hussein was not imminent.

    But Bush had argued that we should not wait until the threat was imminent:

    Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent.

    When I complained about this, the error was deemed “not correctable.”

    So in one speech, Bush says 1) we should not wait until the threat is imminent, and that 2) Saddam sought uranium 3) from Africa. In the LAT, this becomes 1) Bush said the threat *was* imminent, and 2) Bush said Saddam may have purchased uranium 3) from Niger.

    And TCO and steve are apparently fine with these distortions.

    Patterico (c34894)

  49. Patterico, Re #26, when someone calls LAT phrasing “inaccurate” and “careless,” it generally means a correction is indicated. Even if the sentence read “may have tried to purchase,” it would still need the adverb “recently.” I have no idea what their corrections policy is for 18-month-old copy. I take it you did not bring this to their attention around that time.

    The WSJ corrected the exact same error the same week:

    “In January, 2003, President Bush claimed that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium — a key ingredient in nuclear weapons — from Niger. This article incorrectly stated that Mr. Bush claimed Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger.”

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB113054143248783058-d7V10y_rQ_
    GuHxjcqtMxfea5J20_20051105.html?mod=blogs

    Also the same week, See Dubya commented there had been reporting that Iraq was uranium shopping elsewhere in Africa. To which you replied:

    True. But I also think there has been some debunking of those reports. Also, the Bush Administration seemed to have hung its hat on Niger. So I noted the Africa point but didnt hammer it too much.

    Comment by Patterico 10/29/2005 @ 1:11 pm

    [Indeed. I think the bought vs. sought distinction is more important. I think Ari Fleischer had also said Bush meant Niger. But Bush *did not say* Niger. I’m sorry that it makes is a less clean story for you press folks. But it’s the truth. He didn’t. By itself it would be less of a big deal, but it’s part of a pattern of the press and this paper sloppily reporting Bush’s actual claims.

    Is there a statute of limitations on corrections? I don’t pester them about everything they get wrong because I get tired of it. But I just sick of seeing the 16 words stuff twisted again and again and again, while lyin’ Joe Wilson is treated like a “patriot.” — P]

    steve (36e01b)

  50. Steve,

    Shouldn’t the passage of time make it easier for the LA Times to get a quote right and to write an accurate story? After all, it’s not like Bush gave this speech yesterday.

    I agree with earlier comments that by using the words “Bush said,” the LA Times has backed itself into a correction corner.

    DRJ (605076)

  51. The passage of time is how the LAT defends its paraphrasing. The WSJ’s 2005 piece corrected only the “sought to purchase” clause (as the LAT should have done). Well before that time, they and others were taking Rice/Hadley/Bartlett at their word that British intel on Niger had incited the Bush reference. We’d still be arguing this if the LAT had written “Bush indicated” rather than “Bush said.” At least I suspect we would.

    steve (36e01b)

  52. Reading these comments is a perfect example of why its impossible to argue the facts. Pro Bush lovers will always twist, deny or spin to cover the Liar in Chief. Their goal is not to support the troops or the country but the Great Leader himself who can barely even put a coherent sentence together. They cannot admit they have been misled.

    Fact is we are in a war whose principle beneficiary will be Iran. We have failed to find WMDs as promised, there is no connection to Al Quida, we have not found Osama Bin Ladin, the Taliban is making a comeback in Afganistan, we are stretching the military to the breaking point, the national debt is threatening our economy, and the war itself is going to continue until we finally realize its a loosing situation being fought for nothing. Both Dick Cheney and former President Bush warned us of this quagmire that will certainly benefit our enemies at our great expense.

    All this is because an arrogant, ignorant, cock sure fool and his mindless followers cherry picked the evidence and bullshit us all, into attacking a country that never threatened us for reasons, questionable at the time and now proven false.

    Now you can attack others, like Joe Wilson, all you want with false or misleading statements that justify what you so deeply want to believe but you cant deny what I have just said unless you are totally delusional like Cheney and Bush. NOW SPIN THIS..

    Charlie (55cd2b)

  53. You know, if you think the war was a mistake that’s fair. And if you’re PO’d because we invaded Iraq over WMD intelligence that turned out to be false that’s also a fair thing to argue.

    But this is stupid. The SOTU statement is carefully phrased and baldly factual.

    The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    Even if SH did not seek uranium from any country in Africa – ever – that statement is still true. Regardless of whether arguably Bush meant Niger or not, or whether SH actually sought uranium or not, that statement is true.

    The concept of what Patterico is objecting to in this post isn’t difficult at all to understand. Its hard for me to get why anyone would be defending the LATimes over this sort of thing. Their reporting is plainly, demonstrably false, and its about a subject that really matters.

    Dwilkers (4f4ebf)

  54. There have been found documents linking Saddam with AQ. I’m not surprised you missed it, as it got like a day’s mention when it happened. If you seriously think there were DAMN good odds Iraq didn’t have WMDs, then you are a fool. The Taliban is making an attempt at a comeback, but is dying by the gross lot every time they poke their heads up. Our economy is the strongest it’s ever been, unemployment is down, job creation is way up, and the markey sets a new record high every few weeks. The war will indeed continue, but only because we have an issue with leaving a country unable to protect itself from people who get their kicks blowing up women and children. They don’t drive car bombs up to bases, they drive them up to churches and markets.

    And sooner rather than later Iran will have nukes, and we’ll all be well and truly f*cked, because no one wanted to take care of the problem.

    Spin all you like. The ground war in Iraq is a losing battle to be sure, but it’s a losing battle for the team that can only get a kill-count by killing people not carrying an m-16. I’m surprised you hadn’t figured out that the cowards who make the car-bombs KNOW they can’t beat our forces there, thus refuse to step up and fight them. Why fight them when they can blow up a bomb infront of a school and get people like you to cry out for us to leave? EVentually the falshoods the media reports will poison enough hearts and minds to cost us this war.

    When did anything besides a win at war become an option? When did we decide that we didn’t want to WIN?

    You want to know why the military is ‘near the breaking point’? It’s because we’re probably 2 months away from people spitting on soldiers as they return home. They can only take being called morons by their leaders for so long before they start to take offense.

    Sorry Charlie. You just got my “woke up pissed off at stupid people”. My bad…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  55. There have been found documents linking Saddam with AQ.

    Post links to those documents. So far, there has been no evidence linking Hussein to AQ. There have been documents found showing AQ has had contacts with Iraqi intelligence, but that does not implicate Hussein.

    AQ has ample contacts with Pakistan’s ISI, but that does not implicate Musharaff.

    That’s like saying Bush is implicated in the Larry Franklin espionage case because Franklin was working for the government.

    And sooner rather than later Iran will have nukes, and we’ll all be well and truly f*cked, because no one wanted to take care of the problem.

    No, Bush made the choice to go after Hussein, not Iran, even though all intel shows Iranian WMD efforts are/were much more advanced than Iraq’s. Iran’s links to terrorism are/were much greater than Iraq’s too. Not to worry, Bush made the bed, and now we sleep in it.

    The war will indeed continue, but only because we have an issue with leaving a country unable to protect itself from people who get their kicks blowing up women and children. They don’t drive car bombs up to bases, they drive them up to churches and markets.

    Those hapless Iraqis have had years to prepare, along with billions of free U.S. dollars and training. If they haven’t figured out to protect themselves yet, chances are it’s not going to happen.

    When did anything besides a win at war become an option? When did we decide that we didn’t want to WIN?

    We did win the war. Once we took out Hussein’s military and government, the war was over. Everything since then has been keeping the peace. Trying to prevent civil war. Trying to rebuild. It has not been successful because our military is trained to fight and win wars, not nation-build.

    Bush had it right back in 2000. I don’t know why he did an about-face and decided to undertake a huge nation-building exercise during a civil war.

    Rusty (fdd948)

  56. “There have been found documents linking Saddam with AQ”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Splitting hairs.

    “If you seriously think there were DAMN good odds Iraq didn’t have WMDs, then you are a fool”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Call ME a fool.

    “The Taliban is making an attempt at a comeback, but is dying by the gross lot every time they poke their heads up”

    -Scott Jacobs

    The NVA died by the gross lot, too. I think it’s safe to say that they made a “comeback”.

    ” Our economy is the strongest it’s ever been”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Yet people are still worried…

    “Spin all you like”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Why spin when posting links is so very, very easy?

    Leviticus (ed6d31)

  57. No surprise here. I have sent in factualcorrections to L.A. Times stories several times, and they have been ignored

    Gerry Shuller (dd769a)

  58. Charlie #52:

    Reading these comments is a perfect example of why its impossible to argue the facts. Pro Bush Clinton lovers will always twist, deny or spin to cover the Liar in Chief. Their goal is not to support the troops government or the country but the Great Leader himself who can barely even put a coherent sentence together keep his pants zipped. They cannot admit they have been misled.

    Charlie,

    Given your position on the LA Times’ duty to correct, you don’t mind if I slightly alter your comment, do you? In fact, you shouldn’t mind if I quote you on this.

    DRJ (605076)

  59. People being worried about the economy isn’t the same as the economy being bad… If wishing and thinking made it so, I’d be sleeping with Jeri Ryan.

    You really want to start talking about the NVA? Ok, fine. How’s this: the general in charge of the NVA and the VC said that the only reason they held on so long is because they knew the war had no support in the US and we’d eventually leave. The average age for the NVA and VC was around 14, and they stopped teaching them how to RELOAD… They just threw body after body at us, and we killed them. Had it not been for the crowd that is now in power in congress, the group you seem to be a member of, the VC would have gone away, the NVA would have failed, and Soldiers wouldn’t have gotten spit on coming home.

    The NVA didn’t make a comeback. People like you got us to leave before it was over, so they won by default.

    Bill Clinton seemed sure enough of WMDs in Iraq to lob some ineffectual tomahawks down range… But that doesn’t count, does it…

    And if Saddam had zero WMDs, answer me these stunningly simple questions: Where did they go since teh first Gulf War? If they were gone, why didn’t Saddam make any attempt to show that they were gone?

    I don’t know about you, but even if it was only the UN (oooo another security resolution for Iran? That’ll show ’em!), if I had the biggest/best millitaries on the planet (Britian and the US for starters) looking at me like I slept with their sister, I’d make damn sure every single miligram of bio/chem agent was accounted for. DAMN sure. It seems silly to NOT, but that’s just me. I’m logical like that.

    But nono, go ahead and sleep safe in your beds… The US military will make sure to keep the bad men away so you and yours can continue to insult them, and their Comander in Chief, and buy you all the time you need to neuter this country.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  60. Corrections are for clear, gaping fact errors. Not subtle errors of skew that unabletohandlecalculus Medill School grads come up with. So give it up for using the corrections mechanism, for things of this nature. You just come across as a crank. And don’t put words in my mouth: “TCO is fine with this”. I’m making a more nuanced point.

    TCO (1c4d1b)

  61. So give it up for using the corrections mechanism, for things of this nature. You just come across as a crank. And don’t put words in my mouth: “TCO is fine with this”. I’m making a more nuanced point.

    You may not have *said* you were fine with it.

    But I was pretty sure that’s what you meant.

    Patterico (c34894)

  62. I think comment 60 and 61 pretty neatly encapsulate the whole post here.

    I take it TCO is not too keen on having having words attributed to him that aren’t really his, even if they may be close.

    And Patterico isn’t too keen on the LA Times putting words into Bushes mouth that aren’t really his, even if they may be close.

    Plus blowing him off isn’t doing much for his opinion of them either.

    EFG (6fb895)

  63. “The NVA didn’t make a comeback. People like you got us to leave before it was over, so they won by default.”

    -Scott Jacobs

    “People like me” weren’t even close to existing in Vietnam, for starters.

    Besides, you’re missing the point. The NVA made a comeback because the American people lost the will to fight an entirely pointless war that had already cost them 50,000 young men and women. Afghanistan is just such a war (minus the high casualties); thus, the Taliban will most likely make a similar comeback.

    “Bill Clinton seemed sure enough of WMDs in Iraq to lob some ineffectual tomahawks down range… But that doesn’t count, does it…”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Bill Clinton also lobbed some tomahawks at a Sudanese hospital… and you don’t see us invading (or doing anything else for) Sudan on the grounds that they have WMDs, do you? It was a political ploy, get over it…

    “nono, go ahead and sleep safe in your beds… The US military will make sure to keep the bad men away so you and yours can continue to insult them, and their Comander in Chief, and buy you all the time you need to neuter this country.”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Aww, boo hoo! You’ve been watching “A Few Good Men”, haven’t you? Jack Nicholson’s stirring little speech, and all that? Are you gonna rip the eyes outa my head and piss in my dead skull, Jack? Have I fucked with the wrong Marine?

    Quit being melodramatic. I’ll continue to insult stupidity wherever I see it, including the blind acceptance of proven falsehoods… such as your own.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  64. I dunno Leviticus… I’d say people like you too. Sure, YOU didn’t exist back in Vietnam (nor did I) but people like you sure as hell did.

    Anyway, the American people lost the will in Vietnam due to anti-war movements. Much like today. You don’t like war, fine, come up with alternatives to reaching the objectives needed. I guess my largest problem with the anti-war movement is well, the people who are totally against war, no matter what. Even wars like world war 2.

    So Bill Clinton launches a few missles as a political ploy??? Lets get this straight. George Bush isn’t doing militiary strikes for political reasons. Our troops aren’t in Iraq to increase Bush’s poll numbers, or make everybody love him, our brave men and women are there to establish a working democracy in the middle east, to confront terrorists and essentially bring Iraq to the 21st century. So get over yourself Leviticus. The democrats VOTED for this. Yet you like to sit here and call others stupid for actually wanting us to win this thing?

    Now don’t get me wrong, I really do not like war, but I accept it. Everyday the media floods us with horrible news from the middle east. Wars are not won this way. If WW2 had this kind of media coverage where would we be now?

    G (722480)

  65. “I’d say people like you too”

    -G

    Of course they do.

    “I guess my largest problem with the anti-war movement is well, the people who are totally against war, no matter what. Even wars like world war 2.”

    -G

    Really?? Was there a strong antiwar movement in WW2-era America? If so, history seems to have glossed over it.

    “our brave men and women are there to establish a working democracy in the middle east, to confront terrorists and essentially bring Iraq to the 21st century”

    -G

    Ironically, the argument was about Iraqi WMDs, which you neglect to mention (wisely) as a justification…

    “Everyday the media floods us with horrible news from the middle east. Wars are not won this way.”

    -G

    You have no idea how authoritarian that sounds, do you?

    Leviticus (43095b)

  66. Leviticus, my point is that much of this anti-war movement. Think wars are un-neccessary. EVEN IN CASES LIKE WORLD WAR TWO. I.E. let the nazis rule the worlk, just don’t bother us or else we will tell you we don’t like you in 20 different ways.

    look I’ll say it again. Since you glossed over it…. “So Bill Clinton launches a few missles as a political ploy??” and the follow up, which you still ignore… “George Bush isn’t doing militiary strikes for political reasons. Our troops aren’t in Iraq to increase Bush’s poll numbers, or make everybody love him, our brave men and women are there to establish a working democracy in the middle east, to confront terrorists and essentially bring Iraq to the 21st century. Yet you mention WMD’s because you are hung up on them. Why are our troops there Leviticus? Are they trying to establish a democracy, establish order? fight the terrorists? or are they looking for WMD’s… Which one of these jobs is their #1 goal? (hint, its not finding WMDs… Saddam’s government is defeated, saddam tried, convicted and executed for his crimes, lets get past this WMD argument because it clearly has NO EFFECT ON THE MISSION OF THE US MILITARY. Yet you still like to bring it up, because you think it gives you a point. Only a pointless point I may add. again with the parts you didn’t want to quote: “The democrats VOTED for this. Yet you like to sit here and call others stupid for actually wanting us to win this thing?”

    Media has no role in reporting from the battlefield. They are a liablility and just slow things down.

    G (722480)

  67. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…

    Give me a back-hoe, a GPS system for the truck, and a tiny bit of time, and I’ll bury almost anything you want in the middle of a desert and no one will find it.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  68. And Levi…

    No, I wasn’t refferencing that blighted movie, But I was referring to the same source they alluded to several times…

    It’s a George Orwell quote, and I’d list it here if I didn’t think it would make you head explode, you self-rightous jackass.

    And G is 100% right. We’re flooded with news about car-bombs, to the point it sounds like it’s all that happens, every moment of every day. The reality (if you ever deign to read something writen by soldiers over there)is quite different.

    But as I said, go ahead and stand there and criticize and insult. The military is out there making sure you continue to have the right to do just that. Isn’t it nice of them to put their life on the line just so you and your kind can resent them? The irony is delicious…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  69. Levi,

    There was a strong ant-war movement prior to the US involvement in WWII that continued throughout the war. Its supporters included American government leaders like Ambassador to England Joseph Kennedy and celebrities like Charles Lindbergh, who actively campaigned against US involvement in WWII.

    Anti-war protesters organized in the name of the America First Committee, founded by Yale Law students (including Gerald Ford) whose supporters were wealthy and prominent businessmen and celebrities. Sound familiar?

    DRJ (605076)

  70. It is frightening how little the media cares for factual accuracy.

    Professor Blather (c65bfa)

  71. “lets get past this WMD argument because it clearly has NO EFFECT ON THE MISSION OF THE US MILITARY.”

    -G

    “This WMD argument” was the reason we went to war in the first place, and now you’re telling me that I should forget about it because it’s proved unproductive?

    … NO. I don’t think a total lack of accountability sets a good precedent.

    ““The democrats VOTED for this”

    -G

    Yes, they did, because they are spineless political dipshits just like their Republican counterparts. Meanwhile, a large portion of the populace screamed bloody murder about the stupidity of such a war… and were subsequently ignored.

    “Give me a back-hoe, a GPS system for the truck, and a tiny bit of time, and I’ll bury almost anything you want in the middle of a desert and no one will find it.”

    -Scott Jacobs

    That’s a good argument: “If I can’t find it, it must be there”

    “It’s a George Orwell quote, and I’d list it here if I didn’t think it would make you head explode, you self-rightous jackass.”

    -Scott Jacobs

    Oh NO, George Orwell! Go ahead and quote it, Jack. I’ll risk my head exploding from the sheer weight of his OPINION. Or do I “have to ask you nicely”?

    “There was a strong ant-war movement prior to the US involvement in WWII that continued throughout the war.”

    -DRJ

    Pearl Harbor finished off the already dying anti-war movement.

    “Anti-war protesters organized in the name of the America First Committee, founded by Yale Law students (including Gerald Ford) whose supporters were wealthy and prominent businessmen and celebrities. Sound familiar?”

    -DRJ

    Oh, 65% (or so) of Americans were part of the America First Committee? I was under the impression that it only ever boasted approx. 400,000 members, mostly in Chicago.

    C’mon, DRJ. It’s not fair to compare a negligible WWII antiwar movement to any other antiwar movement; a vast majority of Americans supported WWII.

    Leviticus (43095b)


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