And now the most telling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Soft on Saddam
CBS News tonight is airing the interview with Saddam Hussein broadcast in Britain last night. The interview was done by 77-year-old Tony Benn, a leftist British politician who asked Saddam such questions as, "I wonder if you could say something about how you see the enormous oil reserves of Iraq being developed for the people of Iraq and secondly for the needs of mankind." He also asked, "Whether you could say something yourself directly through this interview to the peace movement of the world that might help advance the cause they have in mind." Benn accepted Saddam's denials of any forbidden weapons, and Al Qaeda connections without challenge.
Controversy Over Interview
The softball nature of the interview, carried by Britain's Channel 4, has touched off a major controversy in Britain where some Labor members of Parliament were outraged that one of their own had done it. One labor member of Parliament said Benn had "humanized a monster." Tony Blair's office said, "It is for Channel Four to judge whether any interview carried by them accords to journalistic standards." Channel Four got the interview by outbidding other British media outlets. CBS also paid for the interview. In addition to the Benn interview, CBS News will carry an interview with Secretary of State Powell, which will be done by anchorman Dan Rather.
Former Satellites of Soviet Union
Almost unnoticed by leading U.S. media outlets, 10 more European democracies have said it is "clear that Iraq is in material breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions." The statement noted that the 10 countries had previously declared themselves "prepared to contributed to an international coalition" to disarm Iraq. The countries, all former satellites of the Soviet Union, include all three of the Baltic states of Northern Europe, such as Latvia and Lithuania, and the Balkan countries including Bulgaria, Albania and Slovakia. Their joint statement brings to 18 the number of European countries now backing the United States on Iraq.
Premature Press Release?
Duke University political scientist Peter Feaver says Secretary of State Powell's comments today are “unlikely to change world opinion,” because, he says, war critics are "largely impervious to evidence or argument." The press release announcing the professor's opinions was sent out before Powell was halfway through his speech.