MSNBC’s Liberal Spin On The Tale Of Naji Sabri

If you want to see how the mainstream media plays the spin game, then take a look at a piece MSNBC has written about Naji Sabri, Saddam’s foreign minister, who became a CIA informant before the invasion.

To begin with, here’s the headline and the opening of the article:

“Iraqi diplomat gave U.S. prewar WMD details
Saddam’s foreign minister told CIA the truth, so why didn’t agency listen?

In the period before the Iraq war, the CIA and the Bush administration erroneously believed that Saddam Hussein was hiding major programs for weapons of mass destruction. Now NBC News has learned that for a short time the CIA had contact with a secret source at the highest levels within Saddam Hussein’s government, who gave them information far more accurate than what they believed. It is a spy story that has never been told before, and raises new questions about prewar intelligence.

What makes the story significant is the high rank of the source. His name, officials tell NBC News, was Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister under Saddam. Although Sabri was in Saddam’s inner circle, his cosmopolitan ways also helped him fit into diplomatic circles.”

Now, if that’s as far as you read, you could reasonably conclude that Sabri told the CIA that Saddam didn’t have any WMDs and wasn’t seeking them. But, as MSNBC reveals later in the article, that’s not the case at all:

“For example, consider biological weapons, a key concern before the war. The CIA said Saddam had an “active” program for “R&D, production and weaponization” for biological agents such as anthrax. Intelligence sources say Sabri indicated Saddam had no significant, active biological weapons program. Sabri was right. After the war, it became clear that there was no program.

Another key issue was the nuclear question: How far away was Saddam from having a bomb? The CIA said if Saddam obtained enriched uranium, he could build a nuclear bomb in “several months to a year.” Sabri said Saddam desperately wanted a bomb, but would need much more time than that. Sabri was more accurate.

On the issue of chemical weapons, the CIA said Saddam had stockpiled as much as “500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents” and had “renewed” production of deadly agents. Sabri said Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had “poison gas” left over from the first Gulf War. Both Sabri and the agency were wrong.”

Not to rain on MSNBC’s parade here, but if this is what Sabri told the CIA, it reinforced the case for war. If you have someone who’s close to Saddam saying that he “desperately” wants a nuclear bomb and has, “500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents,” that’s not something that would have set anyone’s mind at ease.

What you have here with Sabri is a perfect illustration of why intelligence work is so incredibly difficult. You have multiple sources, some better than others, all telling you different things. Moreover, you have foreign intelligence agencies offering you info from their sources and it differs from what your sources are saying. Meanwhile, our intelligence agencies have to sort through all of this and determine what’s true and what isn’t, while simultaneously keeping in mind that our national security is on the line and that there will be political consequences if they’re wrong. It’s an incredibly difficult job.

So why didn’t MSNBC hit it from that angle? Heck, why didn’t they suggest that if a member of Saddam’s inner circle said that he had “500 metric tons of chemical warfare agents,” maybe he did and it was destroyed right before the war, extremely well hidden, or shipped to Syria?

Instead of these sort of pertinent questions, we get a slanted MSNBC hit piece. And they wonder why so many people don’t trust the mainstream media to play it straight with the news.

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