Monday, October 6, 2003

Fine But Important Distinctions

1.) President Bush has not declared the war in Iraq "over." According to a CNN transcript he said "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

The intent of the speech can be debated, of course. But Bush definitely did not make such a broad statement.

2.) In his State of the Union address, Bush did not say that Iraq was seeking uranium in Niger. He said, according to the White House transcript, that the "British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Another ideological football. But the misstatement about Niger has been showing up lately, including in Newsweek, which reported:

"In his January ’03 State of the Union address, President Bush, citing British intelligence reports, repeated the charge that the Iraqis were trying to buy uranium from Niger."

This does not have to do with political ideology. This has to do with getting it right.


The second point was suggested by the carping of politically conservative commentators, including Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew predictably suggests that overlooking the Africa/Niger distinction is evidence of bias. Amusing as that assumption may be, a clear-brained copy editor could have made the difference.