The upshot: Aziz gets to look magnanimous; the media remains skeptical about whether what it saw was the real deal; and chief inspector Richard Butler's blood goes a couple of degrees past boiling. Butler reported to the Security Council Thursday on Iraq's continued prevarication. Aziz, he said, told him that Iraq had destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction — but then turned around and increased the number of sites to which Butler and his team are denied access. Now it's not only "presidential and sovereign sites" that are off limits, but also ministry headquarters, plus anywhere Saddam Hussein has ever lived, worked, or vacationed. Apparently the same restrictions do not apply if you're carrying a camera and a press pass. Perhaps Butler would have more success taking a cover job at CNN.
BAGHDAD: As the U.N. Security Council debates what to do about Iraq's continuing defiance of weapons inspectors, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz cooked up another propaganda coup Friday — by taking foreign journalists on a tour of some of the off-limits-to-weapons-inspectors presidential sites.