Monday, November 14, 2005


For those interested, Paul Reynolds and I continued to have several exchanges in the comments section of my original response to him, including a final declaration of victory from Reynolds which I posted to the comments on his behalf (comment #16). For the record, he requested that I post his final riposte to the main page here, a request that, obviously, I have denied. But I direct you to it now, lest anyone (especially Paul) think I am trying to hide from you all his devastating logic and force of argument.


Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

I am disappointed that Scott Callahan has terminated this exchange. I suspect that he does not want to engage with the major fault I exposed in his position and now wants further comment relegated from the front page. The two I guess are connected.

Here is my latest response.

The Callahan Calumnies continue:

Scott Callahan has made a major error yet is refusing to acknowledge and correct it.

I demonstrated that the premise for his charge of bias against the BBC in the Wilson/Niger affair was false.

False premises lead to false conclusions, as they did in this case.

To remind readers:

Callahan accused the BBC of mistaking the nature of Wilson’s visit.

He complains that I quoted him “out of context.”

Let me therefore quote him direct.

“The primary question needing to be asked is: At what point did the BBC transform the object of Wilson’s Niger trip, and the conclusions he drew from it, from an investigation into whether Iraq had obtained uranium from Niger into an investigation into whether Iraq had simply sought to obtain it? The answer is: Almost immediately.”

Callahan insisted on this distinction several times. He has since stated that this was not his idea: “The importance of that distinction, it seems to me, is self-evident to anyone who has followed the issue.” That I doubt. It is not self-evident to me or the Senate Intelligence Committee.

I am happy to quote from him again to show what emphasis he gave it.

“Wilson is correctly characterized as having looked into, and drawn conclusions about, whether a transaction had actually taken place.”

“Wilson was sent to look into the notion that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, not that it had simply sought to obtain it.”

I showed that the distinction Callahan drew was quite artificial.

I did so by the simple means of quoting from the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq which listed the instructions the CIA gave to Wilson.

“On February 20, 22002 CPD provided the former ambassador with talking points for his use with contacts in Niger. The talking points were general, asking officials if Niger had been approached, conducted discussions, or entered into any agreements concerning uranium transfers with any ‘countries of concern’…” (my bold).

This demolishes Callahan’s claim.

And since the claim was demolished, so was the conclusion he reached, which was:

“The myth had thus been fixed in place. Wilson's original mission to investigate whether a sale had occurred, and his conclusion that it was unlikely that any such transaction had taken place, had forever become conflated with a mission to investigate whether Iraq had tried to buy uranium, and a conclusion that no such attempt had ever been made.”

Does Callahan address this fundamental error?

No. Instead he puts up a lot of chaff. However, I think the Exocet has hit him amidships.

I have to say that I am disappointed. Callahan has been one of the bloggers who have reasoned their case not just asserted it. I entered blogs such as this with a genuine desire both to refute criticisms of my work and on occasions of the BBC in general and also to respond to errors pointed out on them. I have corrected a number of such errors.

This has to be a two way process.

If a blog is caught out, as this has been, in making such a flawed argument, it must admit it.

If Callahan is still resisting making such an admission, please let him say whether he stands by the sentence:

“Wilson was sent to look into the notion that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, not that it had simply sought to obtain it.”

Of course, when confronted by the destruction of his “primary question” he moves the goalposts and states:

“It is, therefore the results of the trip, not the nature of it, which are most relevant.”

I have already shown how thin the results of this trip were. And I intend to do an up to date Q&A on the issue asap.

Paul Reynolds

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wilson trip did NOT disprove the suspicion that Iraq had been seeking uranium cake. THAT is the heart of the matter. Wilson has been shown to be a partisan liar in his media statements/articles, suggesting that Bush hd lied bot the risks that intelligence reports had suggested. The BBC has added false credence to these Wilson lies.

All part of the pattern of Bush-bashing.

It is impossible to be able to trust the BBC any more. They HATE the Iraq decisions, and will do anything to discredit them. Including distortion as well as suppression of facts.

Appeasers, pure and simple.

5:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

Can you get your mates at the Beeb to actually report what everyone else is reporting - the AQ threat against HM The Queen?

Or would that undermine what soem would consider a pro-Muslim stance by the state broadcaster which WE pay for under threat of jail?

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> I suspect that he does not want to engage with the major fault I exposed in his position <<

The only thing you exposed was your own ignorance, The BBC are institutional liars, just ask Justice Hutton.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>Or would that undermine what soem would consider a pro-Muslim stance by the state broadcaster which WE pay for under threat of jail<<<

How about this,just today the BBC Says third of Britons know nothing about Islam. What percentage know anything about Sikhism, Hinduism , Buddism or any other religions? What's the BBC's point? We should be made to know more about Islam than any other religion?

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The BBC has just interviewed Mother Sheehan on the PM news programme. But still no news of the President's detailed rebuttal of all the false Sheehan and Dem arguments.

Bush's speech on Friday = NEWS the BBC prefers not to report.

Sheehan = 3-month-old "news" about the BBC keeps wheeling her out.

Meanwhile the BBC keeps plying its line that everything is our fault, nothing to do with medieval/militant/aggressive/murderous Islam. Therefore we should be force-fed with yet more Islamic propaganda, just like all the kids are at primary schools these days.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Huldah said...

Scott and Paul

Thanks for the informative debate that you are engaged on. I'm riveted.

Paul, I don't think you should berate Scott for not putting your response on the front page of his blog.

After all, you have an enormous blogspot to post on, upon which Scott's comments have little chance of being aired - even though he has to subsidise it.

It's called the BBC Website.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


Thanks for making precisely the point I was going to make. I've provided Paul with a chance to respond on the main page, and I have not only notified readers about but provided a link to the rest of his comments, something I have done for no other commentor at all. It seems a bit beyond the pale for him to suggest I am trying to hide his arguments.

Paul can complain about where I've "relegated" the discussion when he agrees to reproduce my posts on the BBC's front page. Until then, his charge rings pretty hollow.

With regard to the substance of the discussion, his most recent does not say anything new that his original did not say. I believe I have addressed it already, extensively, in 3 separate comments. As I said, I'm happy to stand on what I have said already.


10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I think Reynolds wins on points on this one. An article for public consumption must be readable - it can't be a turgid microanalysis of minutae. In this case the 'facts' don't lend themselves to such a level of analysis in any case, being either absent or open to subjective interpretation. The thrust of the BBC's article was that a dubious claim formed part of the President's nationally broadcast justification for a war that has subsequently killed tens of thousands - whatever one feels about the conflict, the British intelligence, Wilson's own bias etc etc that remains the case.

Two points - firstly this doesn't excuse the BBC from the endless snide remarks, broadcast time given to tedious kneejerk anti-Bush clowns and complete lack of important context on other US stories (i.e. Katrina where the fundamental federal/local power issue was initially completely ignored and Kyoto ditto the separation of powers).

Secondly - there are plenty of people on the web (not necessarily Mr Callahan) who will defend anything Bush does and will invest hours of time compiling realms of selecctive facts to 'prove' his eternal infallibility. There are also those who will do likewise to 'prove' Bush's every step is a moronic error. Unfortunately this is an inevitable outcome of the polarisation of US politics and the vast resources available on the web. Personally I'm not convinced that entering into lengthly dialogues with such websites is an appropriate use of the time of an individual highly remunerated with taxpayer's money.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


You are correct that an article for public consumption cannot be a "turgid microanalysis", and must be readable.

However, consider:

The standard "Wilson blurb" that would appear in article after article on the BBC was:

Ambassador Wilson was sent to the West African state of Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium there to build nuclear weapons.

His report said there was no evidence for the claims.

Despite this, Mr Bush referred to them in his State of the Nation speech in January.

Suppose, instead, it had read:

Mr. Bush referred in his SOTU speech in January to Iraqi attempts to acquire Uranium from Niger.

Ambassador Wilson had previously been sent to the West African country to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had acquired uranium there to build nuclear weapons.

Wilson subsequently claimed, in a NYT op-ep, that his investigation did not support the president's SOTU statements. A Senate Intelligence Committee report has since shown Wilson's investigation to have been ambiguous and inconclusive on this point.

Although marginally longer, this, I think, is still readable, and has the added advantages over the BBC formulation of a) informing the reader of the less than definitive conclusions drawn from Wilson's mission and b) being factually correct.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why on earth was Paul Reynolds still reporting what Joe Wilson had said 2 years ago ? The current story was the outing of Wilson's wife in the S press, not Wilson's report. That was past tense - except as yet another occasion to attack Bush. In this case falsely. ll we hve hd since then from Paul Reynolds is obfuscation.

Oh - and still no BBC reports of Bush's major speech saying that virtually the entire Congress agreed the then intelligence reports. Dem leaders as well as the Republicans, including all the politicians on the intelligence committees that had direct access to the CIA etc.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Alaska yesterday Bush gave another big speech about Iraq, including the intelligence at the time.

Why is Paul Reynolds nd the BBC not reporting on this ? This is becoming a sustained "pushback" against wht are seen as false allegations that "Bush lied", and even in political terms this (late)campaign by the White House to nail the lies is important political news.

But no - the BBC suppresses Bush's rgments, and prefers to give yet more airtime to Mother Sheehan, with no rebuttal of her known lies.

The BBC is getting worse and worse. And maybe a lot of it is due to its multi-culti hangup about the roots of terrorism. The BBC shies away from the M word, whether in the context of the riots in France or the Middle East.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

How about yesterday on the Today programme. I had to go in the shower so missed most of the discussion, but it was clear that they invited two commentators in to discuss issues in Iraq, both of whom were anti-war.

Mr Reynolds

You are still expecting Mr Callahan to answer your trivial point while ignoring the major point he has made. Most rude of you. I had noticed the drop in manners at the Beeb, you are clearly following on.

You have been caught lying and showing your partiality. We are paying you to tell the truth and report as impartially as possible. You are not doing your job.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous paul reynolds said...


It was not me who raised the issue of the aims of the Wilson trip to one of importance. It was Mr Callahan himself. He said the "primary question" was why the BBC had allegedly changed the nature of the visit. Given the prominence he gave it in attacking the BBC, I had to deal with it.

However, let's move on as they say.

I have done a new Q&A on the whole issue (including a section about the results of the Wilson visit and its impact on intelligence) to try to give a fuller account of these complex events.

Those interested can find it here:

Paul Reynolds

3:11 PM  
Anonymous avaroo said...

"It was not me who raised the issue of the aims of the Wilson trip to one of importance."

Actually it was you who did that, Mr. Reynolds. Scott DID ask why the BBC changed the nature of Wilson's mission. Scott's question was clearly about the BBC, not the mission itself. You did try to miscast Scott's question as being about the mission but anyone watching closely knows that's what you did. It's dishonest of you to continue to say that Scott did something he did not.

5:51 PM  

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