Editor’s note: The following is the text of a speech given by Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., on the floor of the U.S. Senate on April 1, 2003.
Mr. BUNNING: Mr. President, I rise today to comment on and express outrage over the recent actions and words of journalist Peter Arnett. In fact, I hesitate to even use the term “journalist” when referring to Mr. Arnett. This word implies a certain degree of objectivity and balance which this man knows absolutely nothing about. “Traitor” is a better word to describe Mr. Arnett.
Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.
This past weekend Mr. Arnett appeared on state-controlled Iraqi television. With a uniformed Iraqi anchor translating, Mr. Arnett told the Iraqi people that the American war plan had failed due to their continued resistance and that coalition forces were in the process of drafting new battle plans. To quote Arnett:
“Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces.”
Saddam Hussein couldn’t have written his script any better.
Clearly, Mr. Arnett has no idea what he is talking about. This is the same man who reported in 1991 during the first gulf war that the United States had blown up a baby milk factory. Military sources confirmed that this target was in fact hit. The fact that Mr. Arnett conveniently left out was that this “baby milk factory” was actually a biological weapons plant.
I will never understand how and why Mr. Arnett always thinks he knows so much more than our military and intelligence officials. I am pretty sure our military leaders on the ground and civilian leaders in the Pentagon, who are briefed around the clock, know a whole heck of a lot more than Mr. Arnett. I hope Mr. Arnett is not getting his info from the same source who told him that U.S. forces used the nerve agent – sarin gas – against villagers in Laos during the Vietnam war.
This story, reported in 1998 by Mr. Arnett, could hold no water and CNN rightly fired Arnett for his reckless words and actions. Now, 6 years after that bogus claim, Peter Arnett has once again found himself in search of employment.
Both National Geographic Explorer and NBC News have fired Arnett for this latest stunt by Peter Arnett on Iraqi-controlled television. I am trying to figure out why these entities even hired him in the first place with his pathetic track record of recent years.
We all firmly believe in the first amendment which protects the freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly. However, no U.S. citizen should be allowed to provide aid, and comfort, through false information, to the enemy during wartime.
Of course the media doesn’t mention the word “treason” like many of us have over Mr. Arnett’s comments. That would be an indictment of one of their own and a pock on their profession.
Mr. Arnett can apologize all he likes for being a “useful idiot” for Saddam and his barbaric regime, but that’s not enough for me and it’s certainly not enough for our soldiers and many Americans. I think Mr. Arnett should be met at the border and arrested should he come back to America.
I dare Mr. Arnett to take a good look at our soldiers in uniform and tell them they have failed in this mission and objective.
These men and women embody everything that is great about America and freedom. They come from small towns and big cities. They come from families both rich and poor. They come from all religions and races. The one thing all these Americans have in common is their love for America and freedom.
They love this Nation and cherish its very idea so much that they are willing to sacrifice their own lives to ensure that we can live in a country free of government tyranny like that under which those in Iraq have lived.
This war has lasted almost 13 days. Thus far we have lost about 50 U.S. soldiers and have 17 missing in action.
As I stand here today, our coalition forces are surrounding Baghdad and will bring about the demise of Saddam Hussein and his regime. We will help liberate the Iraqi people from deceit and hopelessness and tyranny.
Mr. Arnett, you need to retire or think about a second career as a fiction writer. I understand you are looking for work and that the socialist, anti-American Daily Mirror in the United Kingdom has already picked you up.
To those news organizations that have already picked up Mr. Arnett, and others that may hire him, I have two things to say: One, you have every right to hire him. Two, we have every right to call your news organization a joke and a sympathizer to traitors.
I believe it is about time we made an example of Mr. Arnett’s lies and deceit and let the media know we are watching.
While we are giving the media top access and protection in this war, we must demand that they not hang out to dry our soldiers and Americans. If they do so, there should be consequences.
Some believe freedom of speech is an absolute right and that journalists have the right to say and report anything they want. I, and many others, do not believe this. I do not believe journalists should be allowed to lie and opine and aid our enemies in the time of a war.
There is a line journalists are not meant to cross, and Mr. Arnett crossed this line many years ago, and he continues to do so. It is time we held this man accountable for his actions.