Whopper of the Week: Saddam Hussein
Who you gonna believe, Saddam or your lying eyes?
"Every fair-minded person knows that as far as [United Nations] Resolution 1441 is concerned, the Iraqis have been fulfilling their obligations under the resolution. … If the purpose [of the inspections] was to make sure that Iraq is free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons then they can do that. … We have said many times before and we say it again today that Iraq is free of such weapons."
—Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, in an interview with Tony Benn televised on Britain's Channel 4 on Feb. 4.
"We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities. ... Let's look at one:"This one is [of] a weapons munitions facility, a facility that holds ammunition at a place called Taji. … Here you see 15 munitions bunkers in yellow and red outlines. The four that are in red squares represent active chemical munitions bunkers.
"How do I know that? How can I say that? Let me give you a closer look. Look at [a second pair of satellite photos]: "On the left is a close-up of one of the four chemical bunkers. The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. The arrow at the top that says 'security' points to a facility that is a signature item for this kind of bunker. Inside that facility are special guards and special equipment to monitor any leakage that might come out of the bunker. The truck you also see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong. This is characteristic of those four bunkers. The special security facility and the decontamination vehicle will be in the area, if not at any one of them or one of the other, it is moving around those four and it moves as needed to move as people are working in the different bunkers.
"Now look at the picture on the right. You are now looking at two of those sanitized bunkers. The signature vehicles are gone, the tents are gone. It's been cleaned up. And it was done on the 22nd of December as the U.N. inspection team is arriving, and you can see the inspection vehicles arriving in the lower portion of the picture on the right.
"The bunkers are clean when the inspectors get there. They found nothing. "
—Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a Feb. 5 speech to the U.N. Security Council.
Got a whopper? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered, an entry must be an unambiguously false statement paired with an unambiguous refutation, and both must be derived from some appropriately reliable public source. Preference will be given to newspapers and other documents that Chatterbox can link to online.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Photographs from the U.S. Department of State.