(OPE-L) RE: Wolfowitz: "Iraq War Was About Oil"

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Jun 11 2003 - 09:21:39 EDT

A follow-up on the June 5 post about the article from
"The Guardian" by George Wright. Forwarded by an archives
reader./ In solidarity, Jerry

A nasty slip on Iraqi oil

The readers' editor on...the reasons why a report on the Guardian
website was deleted

Ian Mayes
Saturday June 7, 2003
The Guardian

On Wednesday, journalists on the Guardian's website were alerted to a
story running in the German press, in which the US deputy defence
secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was said to have admitted, in effect, that
oil was the main reason for the war in Iraq. The German sources were
found, translated, and at 4.30pm that day a story sourced to them was
posted on the website under the heading, "Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about
oil".   Mr Wolfowitz, in fact, had said nothing of the kind, as a deluge
of email, most of it from the US, was quick to point out. Some of it
registered disappointment more than anything else - disappointment that
a valued source of news and liberal comment had in this instance let
them down. "The briefest of searches will bring up articles to totally
discredit your story," one complained.   Many correspondents seized the
opportunity the paper had provided to attack it. One wrote from Chicago:
"Thousands of people all over the world read your paper's internet
edition. It is a global journalistic presence and a global force...In
the past year I have seen your paper abandon any pretext of objectivity
and become little more than agitprop for the Bush-haters' club."
Another called the report "part of what appears to be...an ongoing media
campaign to discredit Jews in general and Mr Bush in particular".   Here
is one in the disappointed category: "You make it sound [as though Mr
Wol fowitz] was saying the US had to go to war for economic reasons
because it needed the Iraqi oil, when what he was really saying was
that...economic sanctions and incentives didn't work with Iraq because
of the oil revenue.   "I'm no fan of the Bush administration - but this
is blatant manipulation. If you want to condemn the Bushies there are
sufficient facts...without inventing them. My trust in the integrity of
your newspaper rests upon a prominent retraction in tomorrow's edition."
  By 4.30pm on Thursday, about 24 hours after it was posted, the report
was deleted. A statement to that effect was posted prominently on the
home page of the website. It was amended at about 5.30pm to take in more
of the precise words of Mr Wolfowitz, which were available on the
website of the US defence department.   That statement remained on the
home page of the Guardian website until about 6.30pm. At that time all
the corrections that were published on the leader page of yesterday's
print edition, with the Wolfowitz correction leading, were made
available to the website, several hours earlier than usual.   Unusual
efforts were made not only to correct but to kill the story because it
was wrong and by Thursday morning was attracting worldwide interest.
There were telephone calls from media organisations in South Africa and
New Zealand, for example, seeking to check it. It provided another
example of the speed with which information (and misinformation),
spreads through the internet. The paper has done its best to send a
frank correction in pursuit and I repeat it here:   "A report which was
posted on our website on June 4 under the heading 'Wolfowitz: Iraq war
was about oil' misconstrued remarks made by the US deputy defence
secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, making it appear that he had said that oil
was the main reason for going to war in Iraq. He did not say that. He
said, according to the department of defence website, 'The...difference
between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic
options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the
case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic
collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the
military picture with North Korea is very different from that with
Iraq.'   The sense was clearly that the US had no economic options by
means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of
the oil motivated the war. The report appeared only on the website and
has now been removed."   That has not satisfied all the paper's critics.
There is no total satisfaction in these situations. The story should not
have run. In view of the significance of the statements attributed to Mr
Wolfowitz, rigorous checking should have taken place. The hazard of
translating remarks from German back into the English in which they were
originally made should have been apparent.   It concluded a week in
which the Guardian apologised to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, for
locating him at a meeting he did not attend. It has not been the best of

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