CNN covers, but media still generally ignore ex-CIA official's allegation that WH dismissed contrary prewar intelligence on Iraq's WMD

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

Four days after former high-ranking CIA official Tyler Drumheller revealed that the Bush administration dismissed clear-cut evidence undermining President Bush's central case for war -- that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction -- the media, except for MSNBC and now CNN, have largely ignored the story.

On April 25, Media Matters for America noted that, with the exception of MSNBC and several brief wire articles, the media had largely ignored former high-ranking CIA official Tyler Drumheller's revelation on CBS' 60 Minutes, that, months before the United States invaded Iraq, the Bush administration dismissed clear-cut evidence undermining President Bush's central case for war -- that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Since then, CNN is the only other major media outlet to cover the story, which it did on the April 26 edition of Anderson Cooper 360 and on the April 27 edition of American Morning.

On April 24 (from 6 a.m. to midnight ET) and 25 (from 6 a.m. to midnight ET), Media Matters examined major newspaper and wire coverage, as well as cable and network news coverage, for mentions of Drumheller's revelation and found that, with the exception of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann and several wire reports, the media had entirely ignored the story. Media Matters also noted at the time that MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews planned to cover the story on April 25, which it subsequently did.

Media Matters conducted a similar review on April 26 (from 6 a.m. to midnight ET) and 27 (from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET) of major newspaper and wire coverage, as well as cable and network news coverage, for mentions of the Drumheller revelation and found that CNN was the only other major outlet to cover the story.

On Anderson Cooper 360, host Anderson Cooper interviewed Drumheller, who recently retired after 26 years in the CIA, where his last position was chief of the agency's European operations. During the show, Cooper asked what Drumheller's motives were in talking to CBS regarding the Bush administration and its use of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. Drumheller replied: "I think until they deal with the actual truth of what happened, the issues of what happened and why they're doing it, and there are very valid strategic reasons for what was going on and what happened, I think we're going to be stuck there. We're going to be stuck in a situation where we can't go and we can't stay." Drumheller also revisited most of the topics he covered with 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley, most notably, that, in September of 2002, the Bush administration lost interest in a high-level CIA source (widely believed to be Foreign Affairs minister Naji Sabri Ahmad Al-Hadithi) in Saddam's government once the source declared that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction, and also that they "had made up their minds [to go to war] before they went in [to Iraq], and they were looking for the intelligence to support it." Drumheller also reiterated that, when the CIA questioned the administration's lack of interest in their high-level Iraqi source, the Bush administration claimed that "this isn't about intel[ligence] anymore. It's about regime change."

While Drumheller mentioned, on American Morning, most of what he told Bradley on 60 Minutes, he also discussed the Bush administration's focus on Iraq. Co-host Soledad O'Brien told Drumheller: "[I]t sounds to me like you're saying the administration came into office with the intention of going to war with Iraq." Drumheller replied: "[A]t the end of the Clinton administration, a lot of resources had been shifted from Iraq to terrorism and Iran, both of which were looked on as bigger threats. When the Bush administration came in, as early as February 2001, there was a change of emphasis on Iraq. They weren't talking about going to war yet, but there was a definite re-emphasis on Iraq. And 9-11 actually gave that impetus, then, and seemed to push it forward. And by January or February of 2002, it was clear to me, and I think to others, that we were definitely heading for war in Iraq."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, CBS, NBC, ABC
Stories/Interests
Prewar Intelligence/WMD
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.