Letter to CNN exposes "chemical warheads" lie

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Jan 18 02:39:26 MST 2003

t r u t h o u t | Letter
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
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
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, an 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 whop 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
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