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Pentagon challenges Vanity Fair report

From Jamie McIntyre
CNN


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Vanity Fair article "misrepresents" statements made by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz about U.S. justification for the invasion of Iraq, Pentagon officials said.

The quotes in the article were shortened and thus out of context, one said.

The article by Sam Tanenhaus quoted Wolfowitz as saying, "For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

The Pentagon says a full reading of the transcript of the telephone interview Wolfowitz gave the reporter May 9 does not support that interpretation of the deputy secretary's comments.

"Vanity Fair only used a portion of the deputy secretary's quote," the source said. "Their omission completely misrepresents what he was saying. The complete quote makes clear that there were multiple reasons for the use of military forces against Iraq."

According to a tape recording made by the Pentagon, the actual quote is, "The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction, as the core reason."

After a brief pause to take another phone call, Wolfowitz continues, "There have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually, I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one, which is the connection between the first two."

A news release promoting the Vanity Fair article said Wolfowitz was contradicting the Bush administration by saying that weapons of mass destruction had never been the most compelling justification for invading Iraq.

The distinction between the two versions is important because one of the main premises in the debate for the invasion of Iraq was a need to rid Saddam Hussein's regime of weapons of mass destruction. So far, U.S. forces have found no such weapons.

The Pentagon's transcript of the interview is posted on its Web site, www.defenselink.mil.


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