Saturday, November 12, 2005

Reynolds defense deceives and falls flat

Paul Reynolds has responded to “Anatomy of a false narrative” and, although I think it is plain that he has failed to provide any significant rebuttals, I would be remiss if I left it unaddressed.

The first thing to note is Reynolds penchant for taking things that I have said out of context. He studiously avoids quoting from my piece at any length, preferring instead to characterize my arguments by extracting a word or two, and then imbedding them into a sentence dominated by his own words. This allows him to attack arguments of his own making, rather than those I have actually made.

For example, Reynolds says:
Let me deal first with the nature of the visit, which Callahan himself says is the “primary question.”
At no point did I say the nature of Wilson’s visit was the “primary question”. I used the phrase “primary question” in the following context:
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?
Reynolds is engaged in two deceits here. First, he pretends that I am posing a question about Wilson’s mission, when in fact I am posing a question about the BBC’s reporting. Second, he pretends that I have singled out the nature of Wilson’s mission as singularly important, when in fact I have identified both the mission and “the conclusions he drew from it” without stipulating that either was more important than the other.

It is important to Reynolds that the nature of Wilson’s visit be the “primary” thrust of my argument because, as it turns out, this is the only aspect of my argument for which he has anything that even resembles a legitimate rebuttal. Hence, if he can portray this as the lynchpin of my position and he can convince himself that he has destroyed it, he can declare victory. Unfortunately he fails on all counts.

In defending the BBC’s characterization of the nature of Wilson’s Niger trip, Reynolds points to the “talking points” that Wilson was given for is trip, which included, among other things, asking officials in Niger if they had been approached concerning uranium transfers. This, in Reynolds’ mind, apparently legitimizes the BBC’s characterization of Wilson’s trip as centering around whether a simple attempt to obtain, rather than an actual purchase, had occurred. Reynolds’ thinks this, despite the fact that: (all emphasis added)

1) Wilson’s trip was conceived directly “in response to questions from the Vice President’s Office and the Departments of State and Defense on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal” (page 39, Senate Intelligence Report)

2) Wilson, in the NYT op-ed which formed the basis of the BBC’s original reporting on the issue, says: “I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.”

3) The BBC’s very first report on the affair described Wilson as “A former US ambassador who investigated reports that Niger sold uranium to Iraq…”

4) Less than two weeks ago Reynolds himself acknowledged that characterizing the mission as one about an attempt to buy uranium was incorrect when he edited his own story, changing the words “had tried to buy” to “had agreed the purchase” in his description of Wilson’s mission.

Now, Reynolds is certainly correct when he says:
Common sense indicates that anyone sent on a mission to investigate whether a sale had taken place would want to check the whole background. This might include whether any discussion of a sale had taken place and any approach made.
Yes, it does. But common sense also indicates that, when describing - to use Reynolds’ own (ill-advised, given the point he is trying to make) words - “a mission to investigate whether a sale had taken place,” one would describe it as, er, a mission to investigate whether a sale had taken place. This is a “common sense” point that seems lost on Reynolds, and unfortunately, as I have pointed out, the BBC has repeatedly failed to employ such common sense.

However, contrary to Reynolds’ disingenuous portrayal of this as the “primary issue”, this is in fact not particularly important at all. Wilson gained his notoriety not because he claimed that the nature of his trip contradicted the president’s SOTU claims, but rather because he claimed that what he discovered during that mission contradicted the claims, and that the president knew it. It is, therefore the results of the trip, not the nature of it, which are most relevant. Even if we were to concede that the BBC’s characterization of the nature of the trip was accurate (which I do not), it would have no impact on the judgment that the BBC has presented a false narrative, because it has demonstrably misreported what he discovered.

Reynolds pretends to address the issue of how the BBC reported what Wilson discovered on his trip, but, alas, he has not done so. Yet again, he begins his defense, such as it is, by taking snippets of my words out of context and presenting them as saying something they did not say. He says:
[Callahan] claims that this distinction [regarding the nature of the mission] is important on the following grounds: when Wilson reported that he could find no evidence of an actual sale, the “myth had thus been fixed in place” that “no such attempt had ever been made.”
Reynolds has so mangled what I actually said, it is difficult to know where to start. First of all, I made no claims about why the distinction regarding the nature of the mission was important. The importance of that distinction, it seems to me, is self-evident to anyone who has followed the issue. Second, I said that the “myth” had been fixed, not by when Wilson himself reported about his trip, but rather when the BBC continually mis-reported the information with which he returned. Last, the myth to which I referred was not that “no such attempt had ever been made.” I have no idea whether or not an attempt was made. It remains an open question. No, the myth to which I referred was the myth, generated by the BBC (among other media outlets), regarding the nature of Wilson’s trip and what he reported back to the CIA.

This is what I actually said, which as you can see bears little resemblance to Reynolds' portrayal:
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.
I am happy to address rebuttals to what I have actually said, but I see little reason for focusing too much on straw-men.

Reynolds does go on to defend the BBC’s reporting on the results of Wilson’s mission by making two substantive points. First, he points out that that State Department was not as credulous as the CIA regarding the importance and implications of the Mayaki discussions. Second, he points out that the approach by the Iraqi delegation, as described by Mayaki, was vague and uncertain, and that ultimately no overt approach was alleged. It is clear, I think, that Reynolds shares the State Department's doubts about the significance of the Mayaki discussions.

But, in making these points, Reynolds has in fact gone a long way towards substantiating my charges. For it seems that the BBC’s reporting has been driven not by a desire to present the facts, but rather by Reynolds’ (or others) personal judgments about those facts. Instead of presenting its audience with the facts and allowing them to make up their own minds about how to weigh the relative importance of them, the implication of Reynolds’ defense is that the BBC itself formed its own judgments about their meaning and significance, or lack thereof, and then presented a narrative that reflected those judgments. But, in doing so, it all but prevented its audience from coming to a judgment different from its own.

Apparently, if Paul Reynolds has personally judged that the views of the State Department are correct and those of the CIA are wrong, then he thinks he has no obligation to inform his audience of the views of the CIA, and can present the views of the State Department as definitive. And if Paul Reynolds has personally judged that the Mayaki discussions do not lend support to the notion that an approach on uranium had been made, then he thinks he is justified in withholding the fact of those discussions, and the contrary judgments of others about them, from his audience.

I very much disagree. It is the BBC’s obligation to present the facts, and allow its audience to draw its own conclusions. The point of “Anatomy” was to expose how the BBC had prevented its audience from doing so. The fact that Paul Reynolds, or some other reporter at the BBC, disagrees with Mayaki’s judgment that the Iraqi attempt to increase commercial ties was an allusion to uranium, does not justify the BBC’s failure to inform its audience about Mayaki’s judgment. And it certainly does not justify the BBC in perpetuating the demonstrably false assertion, repeated over and over again, that “[Wilson’s] report said there was no evidence of the claim [that an approach had been made].”

Finally, it is notable that Reynolds has failed to even attempt to address any of the other instances in which I showed how the BBC had incorrectly reported events, nor, more significantly, has he attempted to explain the BBC’s seeming failure to report on the Senate Intelligence report’s revelations regarding Wilson and his trip. He tries to cover for his failure to adress these issues by suggesting that to do so would be “tedious”, a judgment that he even goes so far as to suggest that I have introduced.
Callahan ranges far and wide across the field of this episode and I will not go through all the details. This, he himself has suggested, would be tedious.
This would be the third time that he has taken my words out of context and presented me as saying something I did not say (and he has the audacity to describe my arguments as “calumnies”!). I used the word “tedious” in a post several days ago only to describe the effort needed to parse Reynolds’ many edits with regard to a specific column. I had said:
In any event, all of this parsing of sentences is tedious and, ultimately, mostly beside the point.
It may well be tedious to see Reynolds attempt to explain away all of the other failings of the BBC that I listed in “Anatomy” (especially if those attempts match the less than convincing attempts he has produced so far). But, contrary to what he says, I have not suggested that it would be so.

You, TAE readers, can judge for yourselves what to make of Reynolds’ reluctance to “go through all the details.” I merely point it out.

I look forward to Reynolds’ upcoming Q&A on the issue. It will be interesting to see if, despite his public declaration of “not guilty” to the claims I have made, he manages to take on board the criticisms, and correct the mis-impressions about the issue that the BBC has encouraged its readers to accept for over 2 years now.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Paul Reynolds' comments yesterday, before your response. I was amazed at his gall in avoiding the central fact that Wilson lied, and lied delierately to damage Bush. Which the Senate report demonstrated.

As you say, Reynolds is evading the main issues in this whole affair and is mischaracterising your criticisms.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous avaroo said...

Really excellent work, Scott. I admire your diligence in correcting Reynold's "quotes". It would be tough to make the case that he has accidentally misquoted you or taken your words out of context so many times. He has to be doing it on purpose, which begs the question....why? The answer I suspect, is that he cannot directly respond to your comments and maintain the fictional story he's been telling. While it's nice of him to address comments you HAVEN'T made, if he were being honest, he'd stick with those you HAVE made.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Kevin in Kenilworth said...

The intellectual debate between Reynolds and Callahan comes, appropriately enough, on the weekend that Notre Dame has defeated Navy for the 42nd consecutive season - the longest such winning (or losing, depending on your perspective) streak on record. I mention this as I find the battle of wits between Callahan and Reynolds to be equally one sided and similarly fought. Callahan is clearly the dominant participant in this tet-a-tet, relying on straightforward blocking, tackling and execution to make his points. Reynolds - himself recognizing the disadvantage in his position (trying to argue without the facts on his side is clearly a vexing annoyance) understands that he cannot win the battle in the trenches and must rely on the tricky old triple option in an effort to bewilder his foe and avoid being crushed by the sheer weight of Callahan's strength of argument.

Sadly for Reynolds - and happily for fans of common sense, logic and truth - the triple option falls short in this case (I score it a 42 to 0 shutout). But give credit to Reynolds for being man enough to schedule a Division I opponent when he knows he is fielding Division II players.

By the way - I'm wondering if I can get copies of Reynolds' old Mad magazine collection. He is clearly a fan of Mad's hilarious old parody on advertisements for crappy movies which selectively used the actual words from terrible reviews to imply that the movie was in fact terrific.

2:00 PM  
Blogger chip said...

The remarkable thing about Reynolds' response is that he employs the same habit of misrepresentation that you initially criticized, thereby reinforcing your argument about the BBC's coverage.

The other interesting point about this exchange is that it shows how a mere blogger is more dedicated to the idea of factual reporting -- the supposed bread and butter of journalism -- than the once-vaunted BBC.

And like Mary Mapes, it appears these journalists will go their grave believing that the facts are less important than the agenda.

Their agenda.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous tired & excitable said...

So...
Big lies up front (reasons vary).
Then obfuscate (clear pattern).
Then bob and weave (...Stayin' Alive...Stayin' Alive...).
Then declare tedium but bank on outlasting the opposition (BBC resources).

Payoff...
The stronger your dominance of the media, the longer the lies stick.

No surprise these tactics don't do well in daylight, nor even that Goebbels and Gramsci got there first, or that Reynolds is at best a toady and at worst a marionette jerked around by his editors (also, sloppy, lazy, patronizing, arrogant and none too sharp).

Scott: At some point, the law of diminishing returns sets in and you will be wise to leave him twisting in the wind.

There are bigger fish out there.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

The fact remains Scott that Wilson's speaking notes gave him instructions to raise the issue of whether Niger had been approached about uranium. This was something you said he did not do and was not intending to do.

This is what you said:

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



Please answer this central point -- was he tasked to ask about approaches or not?


Then answer why you sought to establish that approaches were not part of his task.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

Here is another quote Scott from your original "anatomy."

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

This is simply wrong and I urge you to acept that you made a mistake. We all do that and some of us acknowledge it.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Paul,

Given your apparent desire to focus on the nature of Wilson's mission, rather than the issue of the information with which he returned, I take it that you concede my point about this more relevant and important point. That, at least, iwould be progress.

As for the nature of the mission, and more specifically what I have said about it, I realize that sometimes Americans and Britons use the same words to mean different things, but I think you are trying to pull one over on me. Surely you don't seriously interpret the sentence:

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

...as the equivalent of a claim that Wilson did not raise, and had no intention of raising, the issue of an approach.

Not only have I agreed with your "common sense" point that such "background information" (your words, BTW) would naturally be sought, it is plain from the evidence that the issue of an approach was raised. That was precisely what the discussion with Mayaki was about.

I have not said, and, contrary to what you say, have not sought to establish, that approaches were not "part" of his task. What I have said, and what I have sought to establish, is that the BBC's reporting on the issue has been consistently misleading, and it has been. With regard to the mission itself, its centralfocus, as stated not only by Wilson but indeed by you on more than one occassion, was whether or not a sale had occurred, and yet the BBC has repeatedly obfuscated this fact.

But frankly, Paul, if you think the BBC's description of the mission is justified, that's fine with me. It is the equivalent of describing the mission of the Enola Gay as a mission to check on the cloud cover over Hiroshima, but that is not particularly important for our purposes. As I pointed out, the relevant issue here is whether the BBC has properly reported on the information with which Wilson returned from his mission, however you want to characterize it. And, by stating, repeatedly, that Wilson's mission supplied no evidence to support the claim presented in the president's SOTU, the BBC has misreported the facts and deceived its audience.

I look forward to your Q&A setting these facts straight. BTW, it would also be a big step in the right direction if you also included the Senate Intelligence reports revelations about Wilson's credibility.

SC

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

Scott

I Intend to reply in more detail to your response so that it appears in the main body and is fully available to your readers.

I did however in the two comments I offered above quote you as you desired.

I am still waiting for an acknowledgement that you simply got something wrong.

You said Wilson's mission was confined to one thing when I proved this was not so.

It was you who made this into an issue. It was not my desire to focus on the nature of the Wilson mission, but yours.



I entered these blogs with the genuine desire to respond and I have done so, correcting and amending a number of reports.

In this case I have demonstrated a falsehood.

I have also offered to do a new Q&A pulling the whole controvsery togther. I will give full attention to your views.

But it is has to be a two-way process.

If I find something you have said that is plainly wrong, as it is in this case (and please do not continue to try to to divert attention by downplaying the importance of an issue only raised by yourself), then I expect some response in return.

Bloggers have to have as much regard for accuracy as they desire of the BBC.

with regards

Paul

8:51 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

Paul,

Your disingenuousness forces me to, yet again, get into parsing sentences.

With specific regard to how the BBC described the nature of the mission, “Anatomy” took issue with three seperate BBC sentences, two of which were replicated over and over again in various BBC articles. Those sentences were:

1)"A British claim, later repeated by President George W Bush, that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from an African country (Niger) was not supported either by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by a former American diplomat, Joseph Wilson, who was told to look into it."

2)"It started in February 2002 when Joseph C Wilson IV, a retired career diplomat and former American ambassador to the west African state of Gabon, was asked by the CIA to go to Niger, also in west Africa, and investigate reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium there."

3)"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."

4)"Mr Wilson said he travelled to Niger to investigate a claim that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material there but found no evidence to prove it."

With regard to the first, you have already acknowledged that my criticism of it was justified.

With regard to the last three, note that in each case, the sentence says that Wilson was sent to investigate either “reports” or “claims”. What were the reports and/or claims he was sent to investigate? Reports that Iraq had tried to buy uranium, as the BBC says? No, absolutely not. It was, specifically, a report, allegedly backed by documentary evidence (now known to be forged), that Iraq had purchased uranium. The BBC’s reporting was, in a word, wrong, just as I argued in “Anatomy”, and for precisely the same reasons that I offered in it. The “talking points” with which Wilson was provided, and which you somehow think prove me wrong and justifies the BBC’s characterization, do not change this.

Your attempt to avoid acknowledging this unpleasant fact by charging me with some error is, perhaps, understandable. The best defense is a good offense, and all that. But the fact remains that your charge of error on my part is entirely disingenuous. It is curious that you demand an acknowledgement of error from me even as you have yet to acknowledge the plain and obvious inaccuracies, not to mention relevant omissions, that I have pointed out in the BBC’s own reporting on the issue.

Equally curious is your claim that “It was you who made this into an issue. It was not my desire to focus on the nature of the Wilson mission, but yours.” The fact that I have twice now explicitly dismissed the nature of the mission as relatively unimportant, while you have not only made it the centerpiece of your original rebuttal, but have since returned to it, twice, to the exclusion of any other topic, rather belies this remarkable claim. (And I think “remarkable” is a rather charitable way of putting it.)

Be assured, Paul, that if you do indeed find something that I have said that is “plainly wrong”, I will acknowledge it. I've shown myself capable of acknowledging even the most embarrassing of errors. (And note that my errors don’t just get erased away as if they never existed.)

I also find your claim that I have tried to “divert attention” away from your charges by downplaying the importance of the issue to be simply inexplicable. In each of my two previous responses, and yet again in this one, I have addressed, at length and directly, the error you think I have made and explained why I think your charge does not hold water. In each case I did so even before I explained why the issue you are focusing on is, nonetheless, relatively unimportant.

An earlier commentator made a reference to the law of diminishing returns. If the substance of what you have to say on “Anatomy” remains simply that you think I made an error and you want me to acknowledge it, I think we have reached that point. Plainly I disagree with your assessment, for reasons I have put forth extensively in three separate comments. You of course are welcome to add more comments, as you wish. But if your focus remains as it has been so far, there is little more that I think needs to be said in defense of my arguments. I’m happy to leave readers to make up their own minds based on what I have said to date.

SC

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Mr Reynolds

You are the professional journalist; you are the one responding to an intial challenge. The onus is on you to justify your reporting.

Since it appears, pending any further argument you might have but can't seem to think of yet, that the central case you were trying to make was wrong (the intelligence resulting from Wilson's mission did not contradict the claims that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Niger; there has not been any evidence presented that these claims are untrue) why don't you admit that? Instead you are picking away at subsidiary issues, that would not affect the veracity of Mr Callahan's case even if you were correct.

It is irrelevant whether investigation the possibility of an Iraqi approach was a part of Wilson's mission to Niger. The fact remains that reporting, especially form the BBC, has implies that the prime purpose of his visit was to address the claims from the UK SIS amongst others that Iraqis had tried to buy oil in Niger. It was not; it was to find if any such sale had taken place. The fact remains that, contrarty to certain reports, Wilson's investigation did not disprove the SIS belief that approaches were made, in fact the only significant evidence it is known to have come up with is a weak support for that belief.

Before asking for Mr Callahan to remove the mote from his eye, any chance you'll remove the damned great log from your own? How can you ask him to accept he is wrong in a small, irrelevant detail when you have not accepted you are wrong in your entire case, yet refuse to come up with any argument to counter his reasoned case that you are wrong?

A more cynical reader might suspect that you are using dishonest debating tactics, ignoring the important area of argument for an irrelevant discussion that you think you can win. You then claimed victory for your case without even bothering to address the actual criticism being made of your stories.

12:33 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

P.S. We pay your wages, Mr Reynolds.

Unlike you I work in the private sector; I have to give good service to get paid. If I did my job as badly as some journalists do theirs then people would die. Prove you are not one of those, and while your at it remember that when journalists do their job badly people can die from their mistakes too.

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Paul Reynolds said...

I have sent Scott Callahan my latest and hope my last reply.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last week Bush made a wide-ranging speech confronting all those who now seek to deny that there was near-unanimity among intelligence services worldwide on Saddam and WMDs. Demolishing the theme oft-repeated on the BBC that "Bush lied". But the BBC gave no substantial report on this major speech of rebuttal, on TV, radio or online.

So, our national broadcaster gives lots of space to a proven liar like Wilson, or a radical like Sheehan who eggs on the terrorists in Iraq. But fails to report the measured words of the leader of the Western world.

And Mr Reynolds continues to duck the central fact that Wilson lied, that Wilson was mounting a sustained partisan attack on the White House. And Mr Reynolds will no doubt continue the line that someone in the White House "outed" Wilson's wife, when it appears that she was merely an analyst, not a covert agent. We can be sure on past form that Mr Reynolds will fail to report the repeated claims that if anyone outed her, it was the big--mouthed Wilson himself, repeatedly. From as early as 2002:

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47242

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47306

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-11_8_05_DB.html


"Who is lying on Iraq ?"

http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007540

""Bush lied" is a barefaced lie"

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/columnists/jgurwitz/stories/MYSA111305.3H.gurwitz.c47f8de.html

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will definitely NOT be covered by the BBC, now or ever :

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/11/20051111-6.html

12:51 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

The following has been posted on behalf of Paul Reynolds:

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 emolished, 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

2:00 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...

To respond directly to Paul's question, my answer is: Of course I stand by it, for reasons that I have stated several times now.

Apart from that, as I said last night, there is little more that needs be said from my point of view, and I am happy to let readers decide for themselves, based on the arguments presented so far, which of us is "putting up a lot of chaff".

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reynolds had some credibility when he originally commented at the Biased BBC site. He admitted that the BBC newsroom had screwed up about the so-called 7/7 fatwa.

But on Wilson/Plame he is ducking the key issues. Unconvincingly.

Inside the BBC news bubble people would not dare shoot Wilson's lies down in flames. Just like they would not dare attack the mantra "Bush lied".

So much for Hutton.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous avaroo said...

"I’m happy to leave readers to make up their own minds based on what I have said to date."

How nice of you Mr. Reynolds.

Can you explain how this:
"Wilson was sent to look into the notion that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, not that it had simply sought to obtain it."

which you quoted Scott Callahan as saying precludes the idea that an approach must necessarily have had to preceed a purchase? The word "simply" in this sentence means that the seeking was obviously part of the mission. Had it been either or, the sentence would have read "Wilson was sent to look into the notion that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, not that it had sought to obtain it."

See the difference? That word "simply" makes all the difference.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Tom Tyler said...

(extract from Paul Reynolds' reply above):
(my insertion of context in [ ] brackets)

[PR quotes SC's words]:
“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.
[end of extract from PR's reply]

Mr Reynolds, your inability to comprehend the relationship between "this is the objective of your mission", and "here are some talking points you should raise in order to help you accomplish that objective" is astonishing. All the more so from a professional journalist. You argue as if those "talking points" contradicted or redefined the mission objective.

I would like to propose that you write an article for me. Here are two sentences about what I am asking you to do.

I would like you to investigate whether there is any real proof that Beethoven, while profoundly deaf, was the person who actually composed the piece of music known generally as "Beethoven's 9th Symphony".

In the course of your investigation, you should try to establish whether Beethoven was, in fact, profoundly deaf at that time, or not.

Now then, answer me this: What is it that I am asking you to do - to ascertain whether Beethoven wrote the symphony, or to ascertain that he was deaf at the time?
Please think carefully. I suspect that you are confused, thinking that I have given you two separate and self-contradictory instructions.

Sorry to be so patronising, but you just don't seem to have grasped Mr Callahan's POINT, and thus your assertion that "this demolishes [his] claim" merely makes you look a bit..."intelligence quotientally challenged", shall we say. I think the best thing you could actually say at this point is something along the lines of "I'm deliberately using typical journalist tactics, ignoring the question and just replying in such a way as to further my (employer's) agenda", because the alternative would mean having to admit that you're....erm, not too good at solving Sudoku puzzles.

2:45 AM  

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