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Addendum B: Franken and PIPA Have an Equally "High Standard"!
[NOTE: Franken added this topic to the paperback edition of Lies (pp. 373-374)!]
On his book tour promoting Lies, Al Franken had a field day promoting the results of a study last fall from the University of Marylandís Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA).1
The study, entitled "Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War," led its readers to believe that viewers of the Fox News Channel were much more likely to wrongly believe one of three "misperceptions" about the U.S.-Iraq conflict. The message: Viewers of Fox News are misinformed, and the network may be misleading its audience.
But this study needs a study of its own!
What exactly were the so-called "misperceptions" that were analyzed? According to PIPA, it was considered erroneous to believe that there had been a solid connection found between Iraq and al Qaeda. The study claimed that "the consensus view in the intelligence community" was that there was no such link. Itís no wonder PIPA did not cite one specific source to back this claim.
Apparently, the PIPA folks missed the news about a letter CIA Director George Tenet issued to the Senate Intelligence Committee a year before their study was released. The eye-opening letter said,
2 (bolds and italics added)
" ... We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda going back a decade.
... Credible information indicates that Iraq and al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.
... Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.
... We have credible reporting that al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs."
It was Tenetís letter that later led James Woolsey, Director of the CIA under President Clinton, to remark,
"Anybody who says there is no working relationship between al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence going back to the early '90s; they can only say that if they're illiterate."3
"Illiterate"? Yikes. Maybe the University of Maryland offers some basic reading courses!
Please note: Whether or not one believes that the CIAís findings are true is not the issue! The issue is that this study was built upon a blatantly bogus premise that people who agreed with the CIAís view were flat-out misinformed. Shouldn't a study on "misperceptions" include indisputable, bona fide untruths? (i.e., "Libya's Moammar Gadhafi was directly involved in the September 11 attacks" would be almost universally agreed to be completely false.)
One can reasonably argue that this study tells the opposite of what PIPA told its readers. By a margin of over four to one, viewers of Fox News showed that they most likely correctly, rather than incorrectly, identified the Iraq-al Qaeda link, compared to those who got their news from NPR and PBS!
Shame on the University of Marylandís PIPA for acting so recklessly and irresponsibly. What a horrible example they set for our youth who look to them as truth seekers.
But it is no surprise that Franken found PIPA and its shoddy study to meet his "impossibly high standard."4
[For even more on the possible Iraq - al Qaeda connections, see:
1. "The Iraq - Al Qaeda Connections" by Richard Miniter ...
2. "The Connection" by Stephen Hayes ...
3. Who has believed in an Iraq-al Qaeda link? Bill Clinton, as evidenced by his administration's 1998 indictment of Usama bin Laden (see paragraph 4), which specifically mentions a link! ...
4. An informative NewsMax article on Clinton's claims of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection ...
5. Have you heard of Salman Pak? ...
6. On January 14, 1999, ABC News reported a Iraq- al Qaeda relationship! Watch the video from the Media Research Center! (RealPlayer required) . A good Michael Reagan article also references the ABC piece.]
1 Steven Kull et al, "Misperceptions, the Media, and the Iraq War," Program on International Policy Attitudes / Knowledge Networks, October 2003.
2 A copy of Tenet's letter, addressed to Senator Bob Graham, is here.
3 James Woolsey, on CNNís Late Edition, to Wolf Blitzer, November 16, 2003.
4 For more insight on this same topic, see a May 13, 2004, article by Ann Coulter, "Crazy-Like-A-Fox News Viewers," here.