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A Very Wrong Quote

Date: 5/2/07
Show: Morning Edition (NPR)

In an interview with former CIA Director George Tenet, NPR's Mary Louise Kellyİprovided a quote from Vice President Cheney to illustrate how misinformed the Bush administration was before the war:

We know has been absolutely devoted to acquire nuclear weapons. We believe in fact that he has reconstituted nuclear weapons.

The quote is from an interview with Tim Russert, NBC, on Meet the Press, from March 16, 2003.

Now, it is clear that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons. So was Cheney wrong when he claimed that he had reconstituted nuclear weapons?

Well, the answer to the question is rather banal: Cheney misspoke. He said so in an follow up interview with Tim Russert, but it is also very clear from the rest of the interview what Cheney wanted to say: Saddam has reconstituted a nuclear weapons program. Cheiny talked about the desire of Saddam to acquire nuclear weapons, but he certainly did not want to say that the dictator had nuclear weapons, threw them away, and, then, reconstituted the weapons.

This, of course, had to be known to Kelly, NPR's very own Intelligence Correspondence. By wrongly citing the Vice President when he misspoke makes the administration look even less informed than it actually was, a fact not easily discernable by the average NPR listener.

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Revised 8/12/08