Distorting Duelfer: Limbaugh and O'Reilly misrepresented Duelfer report on Iraqi WMDs
Research ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER
On their respective radio programs, Rush Limbaugh and FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly misstated the findings of the comprehensive report by Charles A. Duelfer, special adviser to the director of Central Intelligence, on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. On the October 8 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh falsely claimed: "Duelfer, in this report, said the elimination of [Saddam] Hussein was a good thing" and that "the action taken [in Iraq] was necessary." And discussing Duelfer's report on the October 8 broadcast of The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly, O'Reilly falsely asserted that Hussein, in O'Reilly's words, "did not have weapons of mass destruction, but that they could have reconstituted those programs very, very quickly if they had wanted to."
While Limbaugh claimed that the Duelfer report defends President George W. Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, it does not, in fact, take a stand on the issue. According to the report, "Readers will draw their own conclusions about various national and international actions and policies. This report will, hopefully, allow a more complete examination of these events by showing the dynamics involved within the Regime and where it was headed as well as the status of the WMD on the ground in 2003."
Although O'Reilly said Iraq's ability to quickly reconstitute its WMD programs is "not debatable," the Duelfer report refutes his claim. As the report notes, "Saddam aspired to develop a nuclear capability -- in an incremental fashion." Further, the Duelfer report notes that "Saddam wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability -- which was essentially destroyed in 1991 -- after sanctions were removed and Iraq's economy stabilized" and that Iraq "had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners separate from Saddam."