By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Lies and distortions tend to beget more lies and distortions, and here is W's most notorious case in point: Once the administration decided to issue a damage-controlling (they hoped) mea culpa in the matter of African uranium, they were obliged to couch it in another, more perilous lie: that the administration, and quite likely Bush himself, thought the uranium claim was true when he made it. But former acting ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on July 6 that exploded the claim. Wilson, who traveled to Niger in 2002 to investigate the uranium claims at the behest of the CIA and Dick Cheney's office and found them to be groundless, describes what followed this way: "Although I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in U.S. government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure."
4) The aluminum tubes were proof of a nuclear program.
The very next sentence of Bush's State of the Union address was just as egregious a lie as the uranium claim, though a bit cagier in its formulation. "Our intelligence sources tell us that [Saddam] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." This is altogether false in its implication (that this is the likeliest use for these materials) and may be untrue in its literal sense as well. As the London Independent summed it up recently, "The U.S. persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges." [emphasis added]
5) Iraq's WMDs were sent to Syria for hiding.
Or Iran, or.... "They shipped them out!" was a rallying cry for the administration in the first few nervous weeks of finding no WMDs, but not a bit of supporting evidence has emerged.
6) The CIA was primarily responsible for any prewar intelligence errors or distortions regarding Iraq.
Don't be misled by the news that CIA director George Tenet has taken the fall for Bush's falsehoods in the State of the Uranium address. As the journalist Robert Dreyfuss wrote shortly before the war, "Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon is bringing relentless pressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive of war with Iraq. ... Morale inside the U.S. national-security apparatus is said to be low, with career staffers feeling intimidated and pressured to justify the push for war."
In short, Tenet fell on his sword when he vetted Bush's State of the Union yarns. And now he has had to get up and fall on it again.
7) An International Atomic Energy Agency report indicated that Iraq could be as little as six months from making nuclear weapons.
Alas: The claim had to be retracted when the IAEA pointed out that no such report existed.
8) Saddam was involved with bin Laden and al Qaeda in the plotting of 9/11.
One of the most audacious and well-traveled of the Bushmen's fibs, this one hangs by two of the slenderest evidentiary threads imaginable: first, anecdotal testimony by isolated, handpicked Iraqi defectors that there was an al Qaeda training camp in Iraq, a claim CIA analysts did not corroborate and that postwar U.S. military inspectors conceded did not exist; and second, old intelligence accounts of a 1991 meeting in Baghdad between a bin Laden emissary and officers from Saddam's intelligence service, which did not lead to any subsequent contact that U.S. or UK spies have ever managed to turn up. According to former State Department intelligence chief Gregory Thielman, the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies well in advance of the war was that "there was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist operation."
9) The U.S. wants democracy in Iraq and the Middle East.
Democracy is the last thing the U.S. can afford in Iraq, as anyone who has paid attention to the state of Arab popular sentiment already realizes. Representative government in Iraq would mean the rapid expulsion of U.S. interests. Rather, the U.S. wants westernized, secular leadership regimes that will stay in pocket and work to neutralize the politically ambitious anti-Western religious sects popping up everywhere. If a little brutality and graft are required to do the job, it has never troubled the U.S. in the past. Ironically, these standards describe someone more or less like Saddam Hussein. Judging from the state of civil affairs in Iraq now, the Bush administration will no doubt be looking for a strongman again, if and when they are finally compelled to install anyone at all.