William Rivers Pitt vs. CNN

Flawed Report; Iraqi Warheads Found

by William Rivers Pitt

Dissident Voice
January 17, 2003



From: William Rivers Pitt, Author "War on Iraq"

to: Staff / Aaron Brown CNN

Subject: Flawed Report; Iraqi Warheads Found

Thursday 16 January 2003


My name is William Rivers Pitt. I am the author of the book 'War on Iraq,' which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and has cracked the top ten bestseller lists of the Washington Post, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle and others. I am also a writer for the publication truthout.org.


I apologize for flouting my resume at you, but I wanted to make sure that you do not dismiss this email as coming from someone not very well versed in this Iraq situation. A correspondent named (name deleted) at CNN gave me your address, so that I might pass a note through you to Mr. Aaron Brown. I am hoping he is prepared to hear what I am saying.


* First things first: The warheads.


Let's be clear. These were not 'chemical warheads.' In the Iraqi arsenal, a warhead is a warhead - an empty ordnance space strapped to a missile. What matters is the payload, be it explosive or chemical or nuclear. The item placed in the warhead denotes the designation. These warheads were stone-cold empty, so by definition they are not 'chemical warheads.' They are, in fact, nothing, because they were loaded with no payload. Furthermore, the word 'warhead' is in itself misleading, as these were artillery munitions.


* Second. Iraq is allowed by UN resolutions to have a variety of weapons, including the Al Samoud missile. We did not want to pull Iraq's fangs completely after the Gulf War, considering the neighborhood they live in. We allowed them to keep missiles that fly only a certain distance (150km most often). Many people will not know this, and will think the presence of these munitions will represent a breach of the UN resolution. This is not the case.


* Third. Scott Ritter informed me today that these munitions were part of Iraq's declaration last December. I await further confirmation of this, and so should the journalism world.


* Fourth. This is absolutely a vindication of the inspections regime. They found the stuff, and it will be destroyed, and no American soldiers or Iraqi civilians died in the process. Inspections work.


* Fifth. Recall how the UNSCOM inspections were undermined by meddling from the American intelligence community. Understand that this warhead story did not come from Blix, or through the normal channels, but through a Japanese (read: close ally) inspector who contacted the news media and let rip before the facts were in hand. Why?


Finally, I want to address a comment you made earlier this week. You said on your show that it was unconscionable that viewers were writing in claiming that CNN wants war because war is good for the media business. I understand that this idea offends the core of your professionalism, but I wonder if you have been watching CNN today.


Your station has referred, over and over again, to these discovered warheads as 'chemical warheads.' The debate has not been centered on what the facts are behind these items - when they were made, whether they were loaded with anything, how long they have been there, whether they were declared - and instead has focused on whether the White House can use this as a pretext for war. Calling these things 'chemical warheads' is a gross exaggeration, which I have heard on CNN no less than seven times during the period I have been writing this message. Mull that.


Please, take the data I have given you and air it, for the sake of a reasoned and complete debate. I remind you that CNN's viewership increased by 500% after 9/11 and that your network made its bones on the first Gulf War. I beg you to get this data out to the American people, who desperately need facts and not overheated innuendo.


With great appreciation,


William Rivers Pitt


William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. He is the author of War On Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You To Know (Context Books, 2002) with Scott Ritter, and The Greatest Sedition is Silence which will be published in May by Pluto Press.