Iraq war disinformation


Some typical (but now largely forgotten) examples of war disinformation from March 2003:

• A claim that Iraq fired Scud missiles was widely reported (March 20). But Maj. Gen. McChrystal (Joint Chiefs of Staff) told a Pentagon news conference that the Iraqis "have not fired any Scuds" (AP, March 22).

• A claim of the discovery of an Iraqi chemical weapons plant was widely reported (March 23). But the New York Times reported that these claims "have turned out to be false" (March 25).

• A claim of a popular uprising in Basra was widely reported (March 25). It later turned out this claim was unfounded.

• Tony Blair announced to the world that two British soldiers had been "executed" by Iraqis in an act "of cruelty beyond all human comprehension" (March 27). This claim was based on a poor quality TV clip showing the soldiers' bodies on a road near their vehicle. Blair's spokepeople later admitted there was no proof they were executed. (The family of one of the soldiers was told by the military that he hadn't been executed).

• A claim of Iraqi troops firing at civilians trying to leave Basra was widely reported (March 28). It turned out this claim was unverified (the civilians may have been accidentally caught in crossfire, as they were close to "coalition" troops.)


Other examples of disinformation/lying over Iraq:

• According to former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, it was almost certain British and US leaders knew they were circulating false reports about Iraq buying uranium from Africa. Wilson was asked by the CIA (in Feb 2002) to investigate the African connection, and he concluded there were no such sales. He thought the matter settled until last autumn, when Bush and Blair stated that Iraq was buying "significant quantities of uranium from Africa" (quoted from Blair's September 2002 dossier). Wilson told NBC (6/7/03): "That information was erroneous and they knew about it". (Guardian, 7/7/03)