Two Hobart and William Smith Colleges political science faculty members cite inconsistencies and misinformation; give the report a “failing grade”.
February 17, 2003 GENEVA, N.Y. — Two Hobart and William Smith Colleges political science professors have critiqued a transcript of Secretary of State Colin Powell's Feb. 5 address to the United Nations Security Council.
Citing “logical weaknesses and outright errors of Powell's claims, drawing upon reports by U.N. inspection teams, by independent academic researchers, and by western news agencies,” Assistant Professors Virginia Tilley and Kevin Dunn have reviewed, paragraph by paragraph, the Secretary of State's speech.
“Our basic goal is simply to bring more critical focus on what some have seen as Powell's overwhelming evidence, by pointing out some of his rhetorical maneuvers, misrepresentations of facts, questionable interpretations of evidence, and fabrication of evidence. Indeed, as professors, we would have given Powell's report a failing grade for these weaknesses,” said Tilley and Dunn.
Among the areas pointed out in the critique:
• “Many countries create committees to oversee UN monitoring. There is nothing unusual or inherently sinister about that. But notice how Powell makes groundless rhetorical leaps regarding this committee from “monitoring” to “spying” to “keep[ing the monitors] from doing their jobs.””
• Regarding a quote cited by Powell: “Powell's delivery implies that it comes from the Iraqi regime itself. However, he provides no specific context for the quote, thereby implying that it comes not from the Iraqi regime, but perhaps from an internal US report.”
• Regarding the replacement of hard drives from Iraqi computers: “There is another possible answer: that hard drives were replaced for the same reason hard drives are usually replaced, which is because they were too old or too small. Powell does not specify (or perhaps know) the time frame for these replacements (it could have been over several years), or the purposes (or users) of the computers in question.”
• “The report to which Powell refers is the infamously plagiarized UK “intelligence report,” which plagiarized a decades-old doctoral thesis and academic articles based on information some of which was twelve years old.”
The full report and accompanying critique can be found at http://www.hws.edu/pdf/powellspeechcritique.pdf.
Additional information on Kevin Dunn can be found at
Additional information on Virginia Tilley can be found at
Hobart and William Smith Colleges are coordinate, private, liberal arts institutions, located in Geneva, N.Y.–the heart of the Finger Lakes region. The Colleges, which have a combined enrollment of 1,800, offer a remarkably broad array of majors and minors, with a cross-disciplinary flavor intended to better inform both professional and intellectual pursuits. The Colleges are noted also for an ambitious emphasis on international study and for their programs in community service. Hobart College for men and William Smith College for women share faculty, facilities, and curriculum, but maintain separate dean's offices, athletics programs, student governments, and traditions.