Thursday, July 24
Sixteen Little Words, my As*terisk
by Linda McQuaig, Toronto Star, July 20, 2003

As the controversy builds over allegations that the White House misled the American people into waging war against Iraq, the latest line of defence seems to be that the deception wasn't that serious — it was, after all, only 16 words long.

"Just 16 little words," as one media commentator described them, apparently trying to trivialize the controversy over a forged document that threatens to engulf George W. Bush's presidency.

But the 16 little words — "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" — weren't just a casual, off-hand comment.

Rather, they were a key part of a tightly-scripted speech aimed at making the administration's case that Saddam posed a nuclear threat, and they were delivered by the president at no less an event than the State of the Union address, watched on TV by millions around the world.

Are 16 words enough to cause a scandal? Depends on the words.

What if Bush had said the following 16 words in his State of the Union address: "The constitution is null and void. I'm now king. If anyone contests this, bring him on." [...]
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