Wolf Blitzer said "I have to assume [Powell] honestly believed" 2003 U.N. speech, ignoring evidence to contrary

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On the November 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) said of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003, speech to the United Nations Security Council, in which Powell alleged that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was involved in terrorism: "[T]he suspicion is that he and others may have known that the facts were not true." Host Wolf Blitzer replied: "You're not accusing Colin Powell of deliberately lying to the American people." Blitzer added, "I assume, knowing him as I do for so many years, that he honestly believed when he was told at the CIA that there were weapons of mass destruction stockpiles -- and he said that before the U.N. Security Council -- I have to assume he honestly believed it." Blitzer then asked Rangel, "[D]on't you believe that Colin Powell is a man of integrity that believed what he said?"

Despite Blitzer's repeated insistence that the only possible "assum[ption]" was that Powell "honestly believed" his speech, Media Matters for America has documented evidence that Powell knew or should have known that some of the claims he made before the United Nations were suspect. As Media Matters has also noted, many of the dramatic claims Powell made in his U.N. speech had been called into question by parts of the U.S. intelligence community before the speech was given.

From the November 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

RANGEL: As a matter of fact, I was hoping that in the interview with Colin Powell, he might share with us, what information did they give to him, to allow him with all of the credibility that he used to have, to go into Iraq? Every reason that the president gave the Congress and the American people have fallen through. And the suspicion is that he and others may have known that the facts were not true.

BLITZER: Well, wait a minute, wait a minute. You're not accusing Colin Powell of deliberately lying to the American public. I assume, knowing him as I do for so many years, that he honestly believed when he was told at the CIA that there were weapons of mass destruction stockpiles -- and he said that before the U.N. Security Council -- I have to assume he honestly believed it.

RANGEL: I'm not going to argue with that, but his chief of staff said publicly, and it's written in a book, that that was his worst day sitting with his boss --

BLITZER: That's true. That's true.

RANGEL: -- at the U.N. And so all I'm --

BLITZER: But -- but he -- but don't you believe that Colin Powell is a man of integrity that believed what he said?

RANGEL: Yes, of course, I do. But if somebody did that to me, with whatever little integrity I had, and my chief of staff was there, obviously, telling me that that was not factual, I would be outraged. And so I'm not challenging the honesty of Colin Powell. But I question why there hasn't been more outrage, especially that now he's describing it as a civil war.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Intelligence, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Prewar Intelligence/WMD
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