Informed Comment

Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion

Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

935 False Statements that Led a Nation to War

The Center for Public Integrity has published a study finding that

'President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war. '

Although the study starts out in a neutral tone, as you read, it becomes clear that the authors think the database of administration statements they have compiled shows a deliberate pattern of misrepresentation.

The study won't create a lot of controversy, since the American people long ago concluded that BushCo had lied us into a destructive and dangerous quagmire of a war. But it is nice to see someone nail down the specifics of the Goebbels-like propaganda campaign that was run on us.

The report continues,

' # On August 26, 2002, in an address to the national convention of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Cheney flatly declared: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." In fact, former CIA Director George Tenet later recalled, Cheney's assertions went well beyond his agency's assessments at the time. Another CIA official, referring to the same speech, told journalist Ron Suskind, "Our reaction was, 'Where is he getting this stuff from?' "

# In the closing days of September 2002, with a congressional vote fast approaching on authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, Bush told the nation in his weekly radio address: "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given. . . . This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year." A few days later, similar findings were also included in a much-hurried National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction — an analysis that hadn't been done in years, as the intelligence community had deemed it unnecessary and the White House hadn't requested it.

# In July 2002, Rumsfeld had a one-word answer for reporters who asked whether Iraq had relationships with Al Qaeda terrorists: "Sure." In fact, an assessment issued that same month by the Defense Intelligence Agency (and confirmed weeks later by CIA Director Tenet) found an absence of "compelling evidence demonstrating direct cooperation between the government of Iraq and Al Qaeda." What's more, an earlier DIA assessment said that "the nature of the regime's relationship with Al Qaeda is unclear."

# On May 29, 2003, in an interview with Polish TV, President Bush declared: "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." But as journalist Bob Woodward reported in State of Denial, days earlier a team of civilian experts dispatched to examine the two mobile labs found in Iraq had concluded in a field report that the labs were not for biological weapons. The team's final report, completed the following month, concluded that the labs had probably been used to manufacture hydrogen for weather balloons.

# On January 28, 2003, in his annual State of the Union address, Bush asserted: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." Two weeks earlier, an analyst with the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research sent an email to colleagues in the intelligence community laying out why he believed the uranium-purchase agreement "probably is a hoax." '

Read the whole thing.

I first realized that the full propaganda apparatus had been deployed when I saw Donald Rumsfeld on television in April of 2003 actually denying that there was any mass looting in Iraq, and maintaining that CNN was looping one guy with a vase over and over again. How many vases can they have, he asked. I thought, "these are not the 'droids you're looking for."

See also Chalmers Johnson at Tomdispatch on "How to Sink America," an argument that Bush's profligate military spending is not unconnected to our economic crisis. Johnson's Nemesis is now in paperback.

Farideh Farhi at our collective Global Affairs blog on a new challenge to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from the Iranian parliament.

At the Napoleon's Egypt blog, letters of Bonaparte during his invasion of Palestine, then part of Ottoman Syria.



At 9:10 AM, Blogger Cervantes said...

And another open door crashed through!

Seriously, it's probably good that this report is getting some attention, but it's been done before, by Mother Jones and others. It was generally known and reported in Europe that every non-trivial factual assertion in C. Powell's address to the Security Council was demonstrably false, within two or three days of the speech. Of course, it was not reported in the U.S., as a curtain of censorship lay across North America.

Anyway, impeachment is off the table.

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Smgumby said...

How To Fix America
by Smgumby





What this nation needs is a few good war crimes trials.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger The Buffalo In The Midst said...

Breaking news:


RAFAH, Egypt — After seven months of living under a crippling Israeli
economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian militants toppled
border walls with Egypt early Wednesday, opening up a floodgate that
allowed tens of thousands of desperate residents to pour into Egypt in
search of food and fuel.

Under orders from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian soldiers
allowed the Palestinians to stream over the border.

In a well-planned operation early Wednesday morning, Palestinian
militants toppled large sections of the concrete and metal walls that
separated Egypt from the Gaza Strip.

Within hours, tens of thousands of Palestinians were streaming across
the border in search of basic goods that Israel stopped delivering
after Hamas militants seized military control of Gaza last June.

In full:

At 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only 935? They're not trying.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw Rumsfield say that, I was thinking more along the lines of

"You don't know the power of the dark side. I MUST obey my master."

At 10:47 AM, Blogger John Koch said...

Bush's co-conspirators includes congressional majority that voted in favor of the resolution to invade, despite evidence the Administration's claims were flaky. Besides, many probably figure that the distortions qualify as "white lies" that facilitated elimination of a despot and troublemaker.

Remember that T. Roosevelt, when faced with "extorionate" demands from Colombian authorities, aided a phoney secession of the province of Panama to get a treaty to build a canal. Jackson disposed and lied to the Cherokees. People don't dislike liars, provided they 1) deliver success, 2) stick to their stories, and 3) never flinch. Bush is expert at #2 and a supreme world champion at #3, never showing a regret in the world. He also delivered success for those that count most, at least in terms of lower taxes, higher military expenditures, and higher oil prices. Bill Clinton also remains admired, at heart, even among some professed conservatives, because of his artful schmoozing which is the one aspect of successful lying in which W is a bit deficient.

Furthermore, even critics of the decision to invade make their whole case moot if they concede the US is vital to Iraqi stability yor that there is no choice now but to "stay the course" or see hell break lose. All but two of the remaining presidential contenders are pro-occupation and have no appetite to let any impeachment proceedings weaken the executive powers they seek or the projection of a "consensus view" to the world about US resolve.

After a certain point, all the agitation and indignation over Bush becomes a distraction from the debate over when and how to exit Iraq. It becomes a stealth device to make people unaware that the only 2 anti-war candidates in the contest have been consigned to ridicule and oblivion. It merely guarantees that we will end up electing people who will carry on more or less exactly as Bush.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous ts. led said...

well lying is nothing in politics. The politics is a lying game, it is misinformation, and the whole political game has led every political to lie, and misinform. But this is also a human nature. We are also untrutful people, and our own slyness reflects in our politicians


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