CNN's Blitzer lets John Bolton lie about Libya, Iraq

The former U.N. ambassador says Libya gave up its WMD because of the invasion of Iraq, but that's not true, and both he and Blitzer should know it.


Alex Koppelman
November 13, 2007 8:00AM (UTC)

Sometimes, we think, it must be nice to be John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. After all, if we were Bolton, then we too would get to go on CNN and lie without so much as a peep in response from anchor Wolf Blitzer.

That's what Bolton did in an appearance Monday. The bombastic, hawkish former ambassador was busy asserting that negotiations with Iran about that country's nuclear program wouldn't accomplish anything when Blitzer asked him, "But why not? Why not? Libya agreed to give up its nuclear ambitions. North Korea supposedly is doing that as a result of pressure and negotiations. Why not the Iranians?"

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Bolton was ready with an answer. "Let's take it one at a time. Libya agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program because Muammar Gadhafi believed, mistakenly, that our having overthrown Saddam Hussein meant he was probably next."

Compelling! But, sadly, not true, as Blitzer's audience would have found out if Blitzer had challenged Bolton's assertion. In fact, it's been well-established for a couple years now that Libya's move wasn't tied in any way to the invasion of Iraq, and that talks about disarmament had started as far back as 1992 and became serious shortly after 9/11.

How do we know this? Well, author Ron Suskind has a pretty good rundown of the facts in his book "The One Percent Doctrine." He summarizes the series of negotiations that began after 9/11 (details of which can be read in the book excerpt available here) by saying, "[M]uch to the chagrin of White House hawks, the disarming of Gadhafi wasn't due to the Bush administration following its 'new rules' for angrily confronting rogue states. It was due to the Bush administration setting them, for once, aside."

And if that isn't enough evidence for you, well, then, there's always the words of both Libya's foreign minister and Gadhafi's son Saif Al-Islam. Each of them has separately denied that Iraq had anything to do with Libya's decision to disarm. Actually, in 2004, it was none other than CNN that reported the younger Gadhafi's denial. "The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told CNN Saturday that 'the capture of Saddam or the invasion of Iraq is irrelevant' to Libya's announcement that it is to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program," an article on the network's Web site reads. The article further quotes him as saying, "In fact, we started the cooperation even before the invasion of Iraq."

Back to you, Wolf.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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