When FBI agent George Piro recently described debriefing Saddam Hussein for seven months after his capture, he disclosed that the Iraqi dictator admitted his intention to re-start his weapons of mass destruction program within a year.
That plan included developing nuclear weapons capability, according to Saddam.
The revelation should have hit Page One of every newspaper.
It would have further justified President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, a key issue in the coming presidential election. But many in the mainstream media could not bear to hear that Bush may have done something right.
When Piro’s interview came out in my book, "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack," NBC Nightly News, Fox News, and Newsmax ran the news of Saddam’s admission, but few newspapers published a story. [Editor's Note: Get Ron Kessler's book FREE — go here now.]
CNN ran a story on the debriefing of Saddam but made no mention of Saddam’s plans to resume his weapons of mass destruction program, including developing nuclear capability. Instead, CNN said that what Saddam told Piro “throws more cold water on the justification for war” because Saddam admitted he was bluffing about having weapons of mass destruction.
Two and a half months later, "60 Minutes" ran the first television interview with Piro. The interview buried the reference to Saddam’s WMD and nuclear plans, as did the press release on the CBS Web site. Likewise, an AP story on the interview mentioned Saddam’s plans in the 11th paragraph. Only four U.S. newspapers ran a story referring to Saddam’s WMD and nuclear plans.
The Washington Post ran a 542-word story on the interview leaving out any mention of Saddam’s avowed intentions. The New York Times ran no story at all.
Today, we have press censorship similar to what existed in the old Soviet Union, except the censors are journalists themselves, and it’s in reverse: News favorable to the government is suppressed.
Bush Supporters Hold Fast
According to the media spin, just about everyone in the White House has left President Bush except his wife Laura, Vice President Dick Cheney, and his two dogs. But one recent Sunday evening, Bush held a dinner for more than 30 White House staffers who have been with him since the beginning of the administration.
Those who attended, along with their spouses or guests, included Josh Bolten, the White House chief of staff; Joel Kaplan, the deputy chief of staff; Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser; Clay Johnson III, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget; David Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff; Elizabeth Denny, Cheney’s social secretary; Tim Goeglein, deputy director of public liaison; and Joe Hagin, deputy chief of staff.
During the Clinton administration, anything that might make the president look good was quickly leaked to the press. But Bush considers making use of such private moments to be pandering, so nothing appeared in the media.
Bush’s Golf Game on Hold
A longtime golfer, President Bush has given up the game temporarily because he thinks it would be unseemly to be seen playing golf while soldiers are dying in Iraq.
When he did play, Bush’s golf game reflected his personality.
“He plays very fast,” Michael M. Wood, his friend from Andover and Yale who is U.S. ambassador to Sweden, told me. “Usually, it takes four hours to play a game, but it usually takes him three. If you ask him how he did, instead of giving you his score, he’ll say, ‘Three hours and 10 minutes.’ He doesn’t agonize over shots, waiting until the wind is blowing the right way or until a particular blade of grass is standing up straight.”
To determine wind velocity and direction before hitting a golf shot, serious players will pinch some grass from the ground and throw it into the air.
“He considers tossing grass and multiple practice swings a waste of time, and he doesn’t tolerate such behavior by his playing partners,” Wood said. “He’ll yell, ‘Hit it, Woody!’”
Gingrich’s Book Party
An all-star cast of Republicans attended the book party for Newt Gingrich’s "Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works." Those at Morton’s in downtown Washington included Mary Matalin, Ken Mehlman, Bob Novak, Grover Norquist, and Al Regnery.
Never at a loss for words, Gingrich not only gave a talk about The New York Times best seller but took questions.
It was the night before Super Tuesday, and when asked whether Mitt Romney had any chance of winning the presidential nomination, Gingrich presciently said no.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.
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