to: Staff / Aaron Brown CNN
My name is William Rivers Pitt. I am the author of the book 'War on Iraq,' which has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and has cracked the top ten bestseller lists of the Washington Post, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle and others. I am also a writer for the publication truthout.org.
First things first: The warheads.
Let's be clear. These were not 'chemical warheads.' In the Iraqi arsenal, a warhead is a warhead - an empty ordnance space strapped to a missile. What matters is the payload, be it explosive or chemical or nuclear. The item placed in the warhead denotes the designation. These warheads were stone-cold empty, so by definition they are not 'chemical warheads.' They are, in fact, nothing, because they were loaded with no payload. Furthermore, the word 'warhead' is in itself misleading, as these were artillery munitions.
Finally, I want to address a comment you made earlier this week. You said on your show that it was unconscionable that viewers were writing in claiming that CNN wants war because war is good for the media business. I understand that this idea offends the core of your professionalism, but I wonder if you have been watching CNN today.
Your station has referred, over and over again, to these discovered warheads as 'chemical warheads.' The debate has not been centered on what the facts are behind these items - when they were made, whether they were loaded with anything, how long they have been there, whether they were declared - and instead has focused on whether the White House can use this as a pretext for war. Calling these things 'chemical warheads' is a gross exaggeration, which I have heard on CNN no less than seven times during the period I have been writing this message. Mull that.
Please, take the data I have given you and air it, for the sake of a reasoned and complete debate. I remind you that CNN's viewership increased by 500% after 9/11 and that your network made its bones on the first Gulf War. I beg you to get this data out to the American people, who desperately need facts and not overheated innuendo.