Charlie Gibson and Barbara Walters Misrepresent Colin Powell's Words

September 10th, 2005 8:52 PM

On Friday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s Charlie Gibson and Barbara Walters, while doing a promo for her upcoming interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell to be aired on 20/20 later that evening, appear to have distorted the meaning of some of Powell’s statements:

Gibson: There's a number of things in this. Number one you ask about whether he, he laid out in that speech some connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein and you asked him about that.

Walters to Powell: When you learned that you had been misled how did you feel?

Powell:  Terrible.

This is creative editing to make a point different than what Powell was stating.  Gibson asked Walters about a connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein.  However, Walters’ question to Powell about having been misled was concerning weapons of mass destruction.  This is how the ABC News website related the exchange:

“It was Powell who told the United Nations and the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat. He told Walters that he feels ‘terrible’ about the claims he made in that now-infamous address — assertions that later proved to be false."

So, according to their own website, what Mr. Powell feels terrible about is the information that he presented to the U.N. concerning WMDs, not statements he made concerning a connection between terrorism and Saddam Hussein.

As the interview continued:

Walters: Then the general made a surprising statement.

Walters to Powell: Do you think looking being back that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attack of 9/11?

Powell: I have not seen one.

Walters: You have not. Even though that's been used as one of the reason.

Powell: I have never said that.

Walters: You have never said it?

Powell: I have never seen any connection.

Odd.  Powell never suggested to the U.N. that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11.  Why is this surprising?

Gibson: Barbara, who does he say misled him, the president or [unintelligible]?

Barbara: He doesn't think it was George Tenet who was in charge of the C.I.A. Because he thinks he also felt there was true information. But there were people lesser down who knew the material that were giving him was false and he didn't find out until later.

Actually, according to the ABC News website, Mr. Powell said, “some lower-level personnel in the intelligence community failed him and the country. ‘There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me,’ he said.” 

Link to ABC News, 20/20 Video Page