Jewish World Review May 18, 2004 / 27 Iyar, 5764

Jack Kelly

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Ignoring the truth doesn't make it go away | In a speech that received little attention in our country (and in his) Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin told 700 academics and business leaders in Montreal May 11 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that now are in the possession of terrorists.

"The fact is that there is now, we know well, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are," Martin said. "That means terrorists have access to all of that."

The Japanese newspaper Sankei Shinbun reported May 16 that Syrian technicians associated with Syria's WMD program were killed in the massive explosion on a North Korean train in Ryonchon April 22. The Japanese newspaper's source said North Korean military personnel wearing protective suits responded to the scene soon after the explosion and removed material from the section of the train occupied by the Syrians.

The force of the explosion was equivalent to an earthquake measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, according to Japan's Kyodo News Service. It would require the equivalent of 800 tons of TNT to create an explosion of that size.

A roadside bomb containing the nerve agent sarin detonated near a U.S. military convoy in Iraq, the U.S. military confirmed Monday.

"The Iraq Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round had been found," BrigGen. Mark Kimmitt told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device)."

Though the round detonated, "there was only a very small dispersal of agent," Kimmit said. Two soldiers suffered symptoms consistent with low level chemical exposure, he said. Two weeks before, U.S. soldiers had discovered mustard gas in an IED, Kimmit said.

These developments have received little attention, perhaps because they don't fit the preferred story line.

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Last week, while relaxing by the pool at his hotel in Baghdad, Toby Harnden, Middle East correspondent for the British magazine the Spectator, was "accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

"She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off now than they had been under Saddam and I was now going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I'll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no 'imminent threat,' a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

"Not only had she 'known' the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the 'evil' George Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. 'Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.'

"Startled by her candor, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing. She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go."

It would be unfair to say that the views of this "American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials" are typical of correspondents in Iraq, but untrue to say that they are rare.

Consider how much attention has been given to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and how relatively little to the beheading of Nick Berg. You've seen images of the former literally hundreds of times on television, images of the latter hardly ever.

Covering a war is difficult and dangerous. So many of the correspondents in Baghdad don't bother.

"Iraq is so dangerous now that hardly any television journalists venture out of the al Hamra or the Palestine hotel, where lager and post-barbecue spliffs help relieve the tension of being in a war zone," Harnden wrote.

"The dirty little secret is that the endless 'stand-ups' you see on your screens are based on no reporting at all...

"Into this journalistic vacuum it is all too easy for the prejudices of the press corps — tourists looking through telescopes — to flow more freely than ever and the resulting reports to be distorted and incomplete," Harnden said.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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