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Jon Stewart interviews Colin Powell

From left i on the news,

Last night's Daily Show featured Jon Stewart doing his usual fawning over the levers of power, in this case Colin Powell (video here at Crooks and Liars).

His questions weren't total softballs, but he wasn't about to challenge any of the nonsense spewing from Powell's mouth either. Yet another big lie appeared on this show -- Powell's assertion that "all the intelligence services of the world" said that Iraq had WMD. As I wrote here, they may have thought it was possible or even likely that Iraq had WMD, but that wasn't the case for invasion made to the world and to the American people by George Bush and his gang, and it certainly wasn't the claim made by Powell himself at the U.N. in February, 2003, where he made statements like these:
"We know that Iraq has at least seven of these mobile, biological agent factories.

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction.

"Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons."
Powell, of course, admitted that we now know there weren't any WMD's, but suggested that the other charges (by which he meant WMD programs or perhaps WMD "program related activities") stood. Nonsense. The evidence is quite clear that not only were there no WMD's in Iraq in March, 2003 (there are now, thanks to the Americans who brought them there and used them), but there were no ongoing WMD programs either.

By the way, lest anyone think this is simply hindsight, I'll link here to a post I wrote in which I provided links to a series of analyses of Powell's speech at the time he gave it, including a letter I wrote to a newspaper, which indicates quite clearly that the kind of lies and distortions being promulgated by Powell were quite obvious at the time and not just now, with hindsight.

My favorite part of the interview was when Powell asserted that we had good intelligence in the middle 90's (we did? the intelligence that claimed there were WMD?), but that we lost our good sources in 1998, after the four days of bombing known as Desert Fox. He suggested that bombing was done by Clinton based on "good intelligence", but failed to note that we now know that it had been years since Iraq had any WMD or active WMD programs, and that the Desert Fox bombing was as completely bogus (in terms of its pretext) as the 2003 invasion. He then talked about how it was "very difficult to follow up that bombing [with good intelligence work] because the inspectors had to come out". "Had to come out"? Sure they did, they were told to come out by the U.S. lest they be killed by the bombing and, surprise of all surprises, after having cooperated with the disarmament program and the inspectors and being bombed anyway, and having found out that that "good intellegence" was being supplied by the inspectors themselves, Iraq was strangely unwilling to let them back in the country.

Incidentally, repeating the bizarre defense offered this week by both Bush and Blair, Powell tried to discredit the Downing Street Memo not by asserting that it was false (i.e., that facts were not being fixed around the policy), but that it appeared before he went to the U.N. So what? He also bragged about his role in convincing Bush to take the case to the U.N., but failed to note that the entire effort was a P.R., exercise and that in the end (and, in fact, before the start), the U.S. went to war anyway, regardless of any action or inaction on the part of the U.N.

Jon Stewart should do a little less fawning and a little more homework.


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All good points duly noted, but a bit disingenious considering that A) Stewart's remarks were probably the boldest questioning of a quasi-official personage thus far on the issue, and B) Stewart is NOT a journalist, but a TV satirist. If you are suggesting that a stand-up comedian should deliver the hard-core grilling that someone from 60 Minutes or CNN should be doing, I suppose that about falls in line with the bizarre course of events this whole memo thing has taken.

I, for one, am grateful for Stewart's show, some of the bravest and most incisive political satire seen since the heyday of 'Saturday Night Live,' in that it has done much to raise the political awareness of its youthful audience.

AMEN to that Philloz.

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