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The Guardian Pulls a "Dowd" - Falsely Attributes War for Oil Claim to Wolfowitz w/ Misquote
6 June 2003

Posted on 06/04/2003 2:55:40 PM PDT by Stultis

Excuse the vanity. All the relevant information is in the following thread, but buried a hundred odd messages down. I wanted to post something with what you need to know right up top, without having to wait for the editorials to come out tomorrow.

Wolfowitz: Iraq war was about oil (RUH ROH!!) [The Guardian, 6/4/03]

Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed [...]. Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.

The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

[The Guardian then procedes with pontification based entirely on this misrepresentation.]

So much for the Guardian. Now compare that with what Wolfowitz actually said (the except is from the Q&A):

     Q:  What I meant is that essentially North Korea is being taken more seriously because it has become a nuclear power by its own admission, whether or not that's true, and that the lesson that people will have is that in the case of Iraq it became imperative to confront Iraq militarily because it had banned weapons systems and posed a danger to the region.  In the case of North Korea, which has nuclear weapons as well as other banned weapons of mass destruction, apparently it is imperative not to confront, to persuade and to essentially maintain a regime that is just as appalling as the Iraqi regime in place, for the sake of the stability of the region.  To other countries of the world this is a very mixed message to be sending out.

     Wolfowitz:  The concern about implosion is not primarily at all a matter of the weapons that North Korea has, but a fear particularly by South Korea and also to some extent China of what the larger implications are for them of having 20 million people on their borders in a state of potential collapse and anarchy.  It's is also a question of whether, if one wants to persuade the regime to change, whether you have to find -- and I think you do -- some kind of outcome that is acceptable to them.  But that outcome has to be acceptable to us, and it has to include meeting our non-proliferation goals.

     Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.  In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq.  The problems in both cases have some similarities but the solutions have got to be tailored to the circumstances which are very different.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz Remarks at the IISS Asian Security Conference (5/31/03)

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Q&A following IISS Asia Security Conference

More Wolfowitz Transcripts

Once again, side by side:

Guardian: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Transcript: "Look, the primarily difference -- to put it a little too simply -- between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil."

Of course this goes beyond the simple misquote. That might (if one was extremely charitable) be excused as a problem of translating from English to German and back. (The Guardian did publish before the DOD transcript of the Q&A portion of Wolfowitz' talk was posted.)

The real problem is extreme, blatant and willful (or shockingly ignorant) mischaracterization. The Guardian, in their lead sentence -- indeed in the first clause of the first sentence -- paraphrased Wolfowitz as having "claimed" that, "Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq". As you can certainly read for yourself, Wolfowitz claimed nothing of the kind. Not on any reading. Not in any language. Wolfowitz was merely noting that North Korea is on the verge of economic collapse, that this would present a large and possibly intolerable problem for South Korea if the regime were to suddenly implode, and that the same problem did not apply to Iraq since it had plenty of hard currency producing oil.

Furthermore, the following transcript should have been available to The Guardian, wherein Wolfowitz explicitly and forcefully repudiates the position they attribute to him:

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (6/3/03)

     Q:  I'm Satoru Suzuki with TV-Asahi of Japan.  Mr. Secretary, eleven weeks have passed since the coalition forces moved into Iraq.  Yet you've found no weapons of mass destruction in that country -- no convincing evidence yet.  Given that, are you still convinced that you'll be able to find such weapons eventually and, in the absence of such weapons, how can you still justify the war, and what would you say to those critics in Japan and the rest of the world who've been saying that the war was mainly about oil? 

     Wolfowitz:  Well, let me start with the last part.  The notion that the war was ever about oil is a complete piece of nonsense.  If the United States had been interested in Iraq's oil, it would have been very simple 12 years ago or any time in the last 12 years to simply do a deal with Saddam Hussein.  We probably could have had any kind of preferred customer status we wanted if we'd been simply willing to drop our real concerns.  Our real concerns focused on the threat posed by that country -- not only its weapons of mass destruction, but also its support for terrorism and, most importantly, the link between those two things.  You said it's eleven weeks since our troops first crossed the Kuwaiti border, and coalition troops first entered Iraq, as though eleven weeks were a long time.  Eleven weeks is a very short time.  In fact, unfortunately, significant elements of the old regime are still out there shooting at Americans, killing Americans, threatening Iraqis.  It is not yet a secure situation and I believe that probably influences to some extent the willingness of Iraqis to speak freely to us.

     We -- as the whole world knows -- have in fact found some significant evidence to confirm exactly what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to the United Nations about the development of mobile biological weapons production facilities that would seem to confirm fairly precisely the information we received from several defectors, one in particular who described the program in some detail.  But I wouldn't suggest we've gotten to the bottom of the whole story yet.  We said, when Resolution 1441 was being adopted, that the most important thing was to have free and unintimidated access to Iraqis who know where these things are.  Simply going and searching door to door in a country the size of the state of California is not the way you would find things.  You would find things when people start to give you information -- we're still in an early stage of that process and there is no question we will get to the bottom of what's there. 

     But there should be no doubt whatsoever this was a war undertaken because our President and the Prime Minister of England and the other countries that joined with us believe -- and I think they believe correctly -- that this regime was a threat to our security and a threat that we could no longer live with.  It is also the case that, beyond a shadow of any doubt whatsoever, this regime was a horrible abuser of its own people and that there is no question the Iraqi people are far better off with that regime gone. 



TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: bushdoctrineunfold; guardian; mediabias; wolfowitz
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1 posted on 06/04/2003 2:55:40 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
al-Guradian is a joke.

What can you say of a paper that employs Robert Fisk?
2 posted on 06/04/2003 2:58:38 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: Stultis
Contact info for The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gu_contacts/0,5816,180767,00.html

Letters to the editor
Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@guardian.co.uk

The Guardian's readers' editor
It is the policy of the Guardian to correct errors as soon as possible, and the paper has appointed a Readers' Editor as its independent internal ombudsman to deal with questions and complaints from readers. The Guardian also has an external Ombudsman to represent the interests of readers where the Readers' Editor is unable to resolve a problem to the satisfaction of all parties.

For more information contact the Readers' Editor:
Ian Mayes
The Guardian
119 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3ER
reader@guardian.co.uk


3 posted on 06/04/2003 2:58:49 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis; generalissimoduane; hchutch; Grampa Dave; Miss Marple; Dog Gone
Good catch!
4 posted on 06/04/2003 3:01:10 PM PDT by Dog
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To: Dog
Good catch!

Credit actually goes to various freepers on the other thread.

5 posted on 06/04/2003 3:03:17 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
But you put it all together.
6 posted on 06/04/2003 3:04:07 PM PDT by Dog
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To: adam_az
They've got no sense of smell?

Seriously though - there seems to be a full court press to destroy Wolfowitz. I hope it doesn't work, but I'm not confident.

7 posted on 06/04/2003 3:05:19 PM PDT by stop_fascism
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To: Stultis
This is no vanity. This is a Free Republic scoop! It demonstrates precisely one of the whole reasons that Free Republic was invented and why we post and dissect articles from various media.

You rock!!! The Guardian gets discredited ala. NY Times.

8 posted on 06/04/2003 3:06:11 PM PDT by Spiff (Liberalism is a mental illness - a precursor to death by Socialism.)
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To: Stultis
reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt

This will now be accepted as fact by every German-speaking person in Europe. Protestations to the opposite will require tons of proof and still won't be believed. Such is how it is these days...

9 posted on 06/04/2003 3:09:24 PM PDT by Citizen of the Savage Nation
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To: adam_az
al-Guradian . . .lol . . I like that !
10 posted on 06/04/2003 3:10:28 PM PDT by ChadGore (Piss off a liberal: HIRE SOMEONE !)
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To: Stultis
Forward this (do it yourself so you get the credit) to Fox News immediately!!!
11 posted on 06/04/2003 3:11:15 PM PDT by kevkrom (Dump the income tax -- support an NRST!)
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To: Stultis
Very nice job. Don't forget, the Dowd misquote was first caught on Free Republic too.
12 posted on 06/04/2003 3:12:38 PM PDT by TomB
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To: Stultis
For the German readers, al-Guardian's sources:

Der Tagesspiegel

Wolfowitz nennt Öl als Irak-Kriegsgrund US-Kongress soll untersuchen

Washington (Tsp/dpa). Der US-Kongress will klären, ob die Bush-Regierung die Gefahr durch irakische Massenvernichtungswaffen übertrieben hat. Der republikanische Senator John Warner sagte, die Glaubwürdigkeit von Präsident Bush, Außenminister Powell, Verteidigungsminister Rumsfeld und CIA-Direktor Tenet werde in Zweifel gezogen. Unterdessen erweiterte Vize-Verteidigungsminister Paul Wolfowitz sein Eingeständnis, dass Massenvernichtungswaffen nicht der eigentliche Kriegsgrund waren. Auf die Frage, warum man Nordkorea anders behandle als den Irak, sagte er in Singapur laut "Welt": "Der wichtigste Unterschied ist, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."

Die Welt

Im Fall Nordkorea setzt Wolfowitz auf die Anrainer

Auf die Frage, warum eine Atommacht wie Nordkorea anders behandelt würde als der Irak, wo kaum Massenvernichtungswaffen gefunden worden seien, antwortete der stellvertretende Verteidigungsminister wieder sehr offen: "Betrachten wir es einmal ganz simpel. Der wichtigste Unterschied zwischen Nordkorea und dem Irak ist der, dass wir wirtschaftlich einfach keine Wahl im Irak hatten. Das Land schwimmt auf einem Meer von Öl."


13 posted on 06/04/2003 3:16:12 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis; Michael81Dus
Michael, important PING to you!
14 posted on 06/04/2003 3:20:26 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
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To: Stultis
Direct link to The Guardian story:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,970331,00.html

15 posted on 06/04/2003 3:20:44 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Howlin
Could you ping your list to this thread..
16 posted on 06/04/2003 3:21:31 PM PDT by Dog
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To: adam_az
Fisk is at al-Independent, I think, not al-Guardian.
17 posted on 06/04/2003 3:21:47 PM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: Stultis
Excellent work.
18 posted on 06/04/2003 3:22:28 PM PDT by kesg
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To: MadIvan
Ping!
19 posted on 06/04/2003 3:22:34 PM PDT by Dog
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To: All
On another thread, someone posted the same exact phrase used in a original language paper; I think the guardian just picked up that quote and went with it.

However, we should write them for so sloppily translating "swimming" vs. "floating" is a big deal when it comes to the vital matter of accurate quoting! They were lazy.

And their interpretation of the quote is WILLFULLY dishonest.
20 posted on 06/04/2003 3:24:12 PM PDT by rwfromkansas (Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!)
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To: optimistically_conservative; stck; Vox
BTW, thanks to "stck" and "Vox" for coming up with the links to the German stories over on the original thread. (I can't read a word of the stuff.)
21 posted on 06/04/2003 3:24:16 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: stop_fascism
If it hits the U.S. press, some damage control may be warranted. But not if the Guardian says something.
22 posted on 06/04/2003 3:25:10 PM PDT by rwfromkansas (Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel!)
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To: xm177e2
I stand corrected, he writes for the Indeterminate.
23 posted on 06/04/2003 3:28:36 PM PDT by adam_az
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To: backhoe
Ping!
24 posted on 06/04/2003 3:35:23 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: PhiKapMom; areafiftyone; PianoMan; hellinahandcart; xm177e2; kristinn; sauropod; ...
Misc Ping-ey-wing-ey
25 posted on 06/04/2003 3:38:37 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: rwfromkansas
I hope you're right, but the last misquote got a lot of US press.

What did Goldfinger say? "Once is happenstance, Twice is Coincidence, but three times is enemy action."

I'm expecting a third time.

26 posted on 06/04/2003 3:41:23 PM PDT by stop_fascism
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To: Stultis
As a writer and former media insider, I can't caution people often enough: The media lies. It lies often (not always, but far more often than people realize). It lies by commission. It lies by omission. It lies by using questionable or outright false information as "fact." It lies by using weak or non-existent anonymous sources, and mischaracterizing those sources as "close to...," or "a senior...," or "an official...," etc. It lies through misuse of polls.

The Jayson Blair form of media lying is bad enough, but what's worse is the subtle way people's words are twisted and used against them, or used to start a controversy. This is the most common form of media lies. It's insidious, very difficult to catch, and extremely difficult to rebut once the lie is out in the public "bloodstream."

I urge everyone to cultivate a healthy skepticism whenever the media goes into overdrive on any story and tries to get you to believe they tale they tell.

27 posted on 06/04/2003 3:41:23 PM PDT by Wolfstar (If we don't re-elect GWB, who is a truly great President, we're NUTS!)
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To: Stultis
Thank you for posting this. The side-by-side comparison of the actual quote with the the reworded adaptation by the Guardian is stunning.
28 posted on 06/04/2003 3:45:34 PM PDT by alnick ("Never have so many been so wrong about so much." - Rummy)
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To: Stultis
Nice job, fella.
29 posted on 06/04/2003 3:53:56 PM PDT by LurkerNoMore!
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To: Stultis
You hit the bullseye with this one. (Repugnant, ain't they all?)
 
BUMPTTT!

30 posted on 06/04/2003 3:56:37 PM PDT by AnnaZ (unspunwithannaz.blogspot.com... "It is UNSPUN and it is Unspun, but it is not unspun." -- unspun)
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To: Stultis
A tip of the hat to the folks who figured this out. Good detective work guys, you've put the professional Journos to shame. This is what I love about the Internet.
31 posted on 06/04/2003 3:59:25 PM PDT by MattAMiller (Iraq was liberated in my name, how about yours?)
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To: Stultis
Great work!!! BTTT
32 posted on 06/04/2003 4:00:41 PM PDT by NonValueAdded ("Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." GWB 9/20/01)
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To: Stultis
Terrible, egregious mistranslations both. Evidently both Tagesspiegel and Die Welt ran with the dpa wire copy and merely reworded it for style.

Conclusion: The dpa reporter was incompetent, malicious or both.

No one will be fired, there will be some mutual pointing of fingers, and the readers will continue to be treated as dirt.
33 posted on 06/04/2003 4:02:13 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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To: LurkerNoMore!
Hey, I thought you'd been (self) prescribed pool-side therapy!
34 posted on 06/04/2003 4:03:22 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
Incredible!
The dishonesty of the left, and their shameless manipulation of quotes in order to support their false accusations, is just unbelievable.

It was these sorts of smears against Reagan that finally woke me up to what the Democrats were really about and caused me to switch from Democrat to Republican.

I hope these clearly dishonest attempts to smear this administration will also backfire and win more GOP converts.

35 posted on 06/04/2003 4:10:09 PM PDT by Jorge
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To: Stultis
Yeah, but 5 hours is my limit.
36 posted on 06/04/2003 4:10:21 PM PDT by LurkerNoMore! (it was mahvelous)
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To: Stultis
Incredible!
The dishonesty of the left, and their shameless manipulation of quotes in order to support their false accusations, is just unbelievable.

It was these sorts of smears against Reagan that finally woke me up to what the Democrats were really about and caused me to switch from Democrat to Republican.

I hope these clearly dishonest attempts to smear this administration will also backfire and win more GOP converts.

37 posted on 06/04/2003 4:10:23 PM PDT by Jorge
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To: Stultis
In the words of Prince in "Batdance", KEEP BUSTIN'!
38 posted on 06/04/2003 4:13:18 PM PDT by L.N. Smithee (Just because I don't think like you doesn't mean I don't think for myself)
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To: Stultis
Wolfowitz was merely noting that North Korea is on the verge of economic collapse, that this would present a large and possibly intolerable problem for South Korea if the regime were to suddenly implode, and that the same problem did not apply to Iraq since it had plenty of hard currency producing oil.

Correction, or rather extension: Wolfowitz also noted that North Korea's precarious economic situation provides a means of leverage against its regime (likewise absent, or less applicable, in the case of Saddam's Iraq due to Iraq's oil).

39 posted on 06/04/2003 4:13:20 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
Just to be clear about this:

al-Guardian got burnt by Tagesspiegel and Die Welt, which in turn had gotten burnt by dpa. (dpa is a German equivalent of Reuters or the Associated Press.)

Since neither Tagesspiegel nor Die Welt are lefty newspapers, the Guardian might even be called a victim in this mess.
40 posted on 06/04/2003 4:25:46 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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To: tictoc
Again, the lead sentence begins: "Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk [Wolfowitz] has claimed."

That characterization (oil being the "main" reason) was not supported even by the misquote. Was there something else in the dpa feed that supported it? If not, then The Guardian may have gotten "burnt" as to the quote, but they still spun a blatantly (and very probably willfully) false story to go along with it.

41 posted on 06/04/2003 4:32:53 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: Stultis
Then again, I may be wrong about this. I was too hasty in posting. Of the two German newspapers quoted by you, one (Tagesspiegel) credited dpa, so I automatically assumed dpa to be the original source.

However, the Tagesspiegel article appeared on June 3rd, while the Die Welt article (bylined Sophie Mühlmann, datelined Singapore) appeared a day earlier, on June 2nd.

The mistranslation therefore is attributable not to dpa but to Sophie Mühlmann, reporting for Die Welt from Singapore (if she was even there; might have pulled a Rick Bragg).

42 posted on 06/04/2003 4:34:57 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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To: Stultis
Thanks for the pingy wingy!!!
43 posted on 06/04/2003 4:43:26 PM PDT by areafiftyone (The U.N. needs a good Flush!)
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To: Stultis
FReepers RULE bump!
44 posted on 06/04/2003 4:46:35 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Stultis
BTTTTT Al Guardian has a track record of being leftist and being the most anti Israel of all Brit fishwraps.
45 posted on 06/04/2003 4:48:02 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: Stultis
Thank you for your reply, Stultis. Although I hate to defend the Guardian, the Tagesspiegel article does support that lead (lede?).

Tagesspiegel wrote:

Unterdessen erweiterte Vize-Verteidigungsminister Paul Wolfowitz sein Eingeständnis, dass Massenvernichtungswaffen nicht der eigentliche Kriegsgrund waren.

My translation:

In the meantime, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz expanded on his admission that weapons of mass destruction were not the actual reason for the war (my underline).

Tagesspiegel continues:

Auf die Frage, warum man Nordkorea anders behandle als den Irak, sagte er in Singapur laut "Welt":

My translation:

Asked in Singapore why North Korea was being treated differently than Iraq, he said, according to Die Welt:

(And now follows what the Guardian accurately translated from German, but what was in fact a gross misquote of Wolfowitz.)
46 posted on 06/04/2003 4:52:31 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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To: tictoc
Maybe they can run the quote through a few more languages and see what they get.
47 posted on 06/04/2003 4:57:32 PM PDT by firebrand
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To: tictoc; hellinahandcart
They still need the cattle-prod treatment from the English speakers. Heading home now, and will be composing a nice warm email to the ombudsman as a drive.

Maybe just, "thanks for playing 'misquote the jew'," and a link to the thread.
48 posted on 06/04/2003 4:59:48 PM PDT by Stultis
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To: tictoc
My preliminary conclusion is that dpa is probably innocent of any inaccuracy or malice. The first, and principal, culprit is Sophie Mühlmann writing for Die Welt. Second comes Tagesspiegel, which added its own spin ("...not the actual reason for the war"). And finally, the Guardian added its blaring headline, based on the two German newspapers.

While it is true that both Tagesspiegel and Die Welt are supposed to be moderately right of center newspapers, their staff are products of journalism schools, and you can do only so much with the graduates after their indoctrination by their professors. Nevertheless, each of the two German newspapers should take action, especially in the case of Mühlmann. At the very least, a warning with an entry in the personnel file.

Alternatively, Mühlmann's English may not be up to the task of being a reporter, in which case she cannot remain a foreign correspondent.

49 posted on 06/04/2003 5:06:13 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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To: firebrand
I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand your comment. Could you please clarify?
50 posted on 06/04/2003 5:09:11 PM PDT by tictoc (On FreeRepublic, discussion is a contact sport.)
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