Sunday, July 13, 2003

learned prevarication

From the NYT:
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Mr. Bush contended that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Among elements he cited to make his case was a statement that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Ms. Rice, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," said that "the statement that he made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that."
And Mr. Rumsfeld said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press" that "it turns out that it's technically correct what the president said, that the U.K. does -- did say that -- and still says that. They haven't changed their mind, the United Kingdom intelligence people."

Do I have a completely idiosyncratic notion of the meaning of the word "learned"? To me, when X says that Y learned Z, X is not just asserting that Y said Z or that Y believes Z, but that X is also asserting that what Y is saying regarding Z is true. I don't get what is "accurate" or "technically accurate" about Bush's 16 words if Z (the uranium purchase attempt) is indeed not true. Instead, their claims would only be correct if Bush had said something like "the British government is saying that...."

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