wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
90BAGHDAD3856 1990-07-09 07:27:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

SADDAM AND THE WESTERN MEDIA--CONTINUED

Tags:   PREL US IZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
1. (C-ENTIRE TEXT)

2. SUMMARY THE GOI HAS PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY
COMPLAINED ABOUT "DISTORTION" IN THE ABC VERSION
OF PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSAYN'S INTERVIEW WITH
DIANE SAWYER. IT HAS PUBLISHED BOTH THE THREE-
HOUR "UNCUT" VERSION AND WHAT IT CLAIMS IS THE
TEXT OF THE 20-MINUTE ABC PROGRAM.
ONCE AGAIN, SADDAM HAS FOUND "EVIDENCE" OF A U.S.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST HIM, YET HE IS SOLDIERING ON IN
HIS NEW POLICY OF AVAILABILITY TO THE WESTERN
PRESS (LE FIGARO IS NEXT) AND IN HIS WILLING-
NESS TO LET THE IRAQI PUBLIC SEE AND HEAR HIM
UNCUT,WARTS AND ALL. END SUMMARY.

3. FOLLOWING THE MEDIA HEADLINES GIVEN TO
PRESIDENT BUSH'S 'ID AL-ADHA MESSAGE TO IRAQI
PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSAYN (REF A) AND SADDAM'S
CORDIAL REPLY (HIGHLIGHTED IN JULY 6 NEWSPAPERS),
IRAQ'S GOVERNMENT-DIRECTED ARABIC PRESS LET OUT
A HOWL OF FRUSTRATION JULY 7 AT ABC AND DIANE
SAWYER FOR AIRING ONLY A SMALL "DISTORTED"
PORTION OF SADDAM'S JUNE 24 THREE-HOUR PLUS
INTERVIEW WITH SAWYER. "DELIBERATE DISTORTION
IN CONVERSATION OF THE LEADER WITH AMERICAN TV
NETWORK: THIS IS THE SPURIOUS DEMOCRACY OF THE
AMERICANS." THE ARTICLE ACCOMPANYING THE HEAD-
LINES DEVELOPS THESE THEMES AND INVITES READERS
TO COMPARE WHAT ABC AIRED (TEXT PRINTED JULY 7)
WITH TEXT OF THE FULL INTERVIEW (PUBLISHED
JUNE 30), TO SEE JUST HOW DISTORTED U.S. REPORT-
ING ON IRAQ IS.

4. U/S HAMDUN MADE THE SAME COMPLAINT ABOUT
"DISTORTION" TO US PRIVATELY, THOUGH IN MORE
TEMPERATE TERMS, ON JUNE 30. WHEN WE POINTED
OUT THAT COMPRESSING 3 HOURS INTO 20 MINUTES
WOULD UNAVOIDABLY REMOVE SOME OF THE CONTEXT
OF SPECIFIC REMARKS, HAMDUN SAID HE MEANT THERE
WAS DELIBERATE AND NEGATIVE DISTORTION (HE HAD
SEEN THE ABC VERSION).

5. COMMENT: CLEARLY, THE ABC INCIDENT HAS
FUELLED SADDAM'S BELIEF THAT THE WESTERN MEDIA
ARE ENGAGED IN AN ANTI-IRAQ CAMPAIGN--EDITORIALS
ARE ALREADY MAKING THAT POINT--AND ADD TO THE
SENSE THAT IRAQ WILL NOT GET A "FAIR" HEARING
IN THE WEST. NEVERTHELESS, SADDAM IS NOT THROWING
IN THE TOWEL; HE IS EXPECTED TO GRANT AN
INTERVIEW TO LE FIGARO THIS WEEK, AND 40 MORE
EUROPEAN (AND ONE JAPANESE) JOURNALISTS HAVE
SENT IN THEIR REQUESTS.

6. IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT NOT ONLY HAVE
THE IRAQIS REACTED TO THE "DISTORTION" BY
RUNNING SIX HOURS OF SADDAM'S INTERVIEWS BUT HAVE
PRINTED WHAT WAS AIRED BY ABC, INCLUDING MATERIAL
THAT WAS EXCISED FROM THE VERSION OF THE INTER-
VIEW AS BROADCAST HERE. THE JULY 7 ARABIC
PRESS TRANSCRIPTS OF THAT INTERVIEW CONTAIN, FOR
EXAMPLE, SADDAM'S DENIAL THAT HE EVER KILLED
ANYONE AND HIS EXCHANGE WITH SAWYER ABOUT PUNISH-
MENT FOR THOSE WHO INSULT THE PRESIDENT. BUT,
AS WE HAVE SAID BEFORE, IT SHOULD BE CLEAR TO
EVERYONE THAT SADDAM HUSAYN IS FEELING COMFORT-
ABLE AND CONFIDENT: HE PERMITTED ALL IRAQIS
TO READ AND SEE HIS INTERVIEWS, DEMONSTRATING
THAT HE DOES NOT MIND APPEARING BEFORE THEM AS
LESS THAN IMPECCABLE.

7. ACTION REQUESTED. WE ARE MOST KEEN TO SEE
A VIDEO OF SAWYER'S INTERVIEW WITH SADDAM, IN
ORDER TO COMPARE IT WITH THE TWO VERSIONS
PUBLISHED HERE.

GLASPIE