Thursday, March 20, 2008

The BBC accuses Bush of 'claiming victory' in Iraq again. He didn't.

The BBC's headline on its report of President Bush's Iraq speech is 'Bush speech hails Iraq victory'. I was surprised that he would have said such a thing, given the way in which previous claims of success have been used to criticise and ridicule the Commander in Chief.

Most famously, in 2003, Bush landed on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." He was speaking in front of a banner that said 'Mission Accomplished', words that have been recalled with a sneer by many a news anchor and New York Times writer in the years since (apparently the banner was the Navy's idea).

So I was surprised that the President would hold out another hostage to fortune by claiming victory again, but this is what the relevant part of the BBC report said:

He said recent troop reinforcements had brought about "a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror".

Surely this is more ammunition for the President's many critics. There he goes again! They'll be shrieking. We knew he was stupid, but this is unbelievable!

If read the speech, however - I happened to see the excerpt in question on Hugh Hewitt's blog - you'll find that Bush didn't say that at all. (If you don't want to read the whole thing use your browser's 'Find' field to search for 'victory' – it's the first instance.)

What he said was the following:

The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around – it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror.

Bush didn't say the surge had 'brought about' a strategic victory, he said they had 'opened the door' to it. He was saying that the surge has paved the way for a victory over Al Qaeda; he did not say the victory had been achieved.

I checked the video in case the President had deviated from the text, but he sticks to it faithfully. And he shows that he's fully aware that the 'strategic victory' has not yet been achieved in the next paragraph:

When Iraqi and American forces finish the job, the effects will reverberate far beyond Iraq's borders.

'When' they finish the job. So he's clearly admitting that it's not finished yet.

The BBC's headline, and its mischievously edited report, convey completely the wrong impression about the tone of the President's speech, leaving him open once again to accusations of arrogance about America's achievements, and ignorance of the situation in Iraq.

The journalist who edited the report knew exactly what they were doing. They had access to the full transcript, and the video. They cut-and-pasted, or typed out, Bush's 'incriminating' words. Whoever wrote 'brought about' was lying, and their intention was clear.

I don't know whether they've taken the picture of Bush as Hitler off the wall of the newsroom, but it's clear that some very senior people at the BBC despise the President as much as ever. They have no compunction about manipulating his words, and producing misleading news reports, in their campaign to ensure that he remains a figure of hate and ridicule around the world.

UPDATE: A belated thank-you to Charles for linking. Welcome, lizards, and feel free to scamper around on the rocks while you're here. A couple of recent posts you may enjoy: George Clooney's double standard over China, and Gazans driving Caterpillars; Rachel Corrie spinnining in grave.

UPDATE 2: LGF reports that the BBC has changed the headline. However, the misleading sentence that was the basis for the headline is still in there.

I'm working on a follow-up post now.


Anonymous said...

The BBC changed the headline this morning. It now reads "Bush says Iraq invasion was right".

No note was left on the article.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/21/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.