During part of Friday, Spin of the Day provided a link to a story by Robert Scheer of the Los Angeles Times titled Bush's Faustian Deal with the Taliban. We have discovered, however, that Scheer's story was misleading and inaccurate. His story, written on May 22, 2001, reported that the Bush administration had given $43 million to the Taliban as "an ally in the drug war. ... The gift ... makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban." While it is true that the Bush administration allocated aid to Afghanistan in May, the aid package (which consisted in large part of surplus U.S. wheat) was intended to prevent millions of Afghans from starving to death. In announcing the aid package, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a point of criticizing the Taliban, not just for failing to cooperate with U.S. efforts to extradite Osama bin Laden, but also for contributing to mass hunger in Afghanistan. Powell said the U.S. aid would be administered by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations and would bypasses the Taliban, "who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it." Powell's announcement was supported even by the Feminist Majority Foundation, which of course deplores the Taliban's discrimination against women. The actual facts surrounding this aid package were reported at the time on CNN. For a further critique of Scheer's misleading story, see the critique on Spinsanity.org. We apologize for our role in circulating, however briefly, misinformation at this difficult moment in America's history.
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