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They make a grain into a kubba
As the introductory paragraph in the section explaining their study methodology states:
Over the past two and a half years, researchers at the Fund for Independence in Journalism have sought to document every public statement made by eight top Bush administration officials from September 11, 2001, to September 11, 2003, regarding (1) Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction and (2) Iraq's links to Al Qaeda. Although both had been frequently cited as rationales for the U.S. war in Iraq, by 2005 it was known that these assertions had not, in fact, been true.
The study concluded that these assertions of falsehoods, these lies, "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."
Thanks to the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism we now have access to a searchable database, the result of their work in chronologically tracking top Bush administration officials Iraq-related public pronouncements. The database enabled a count of the lies. Nearly 1,000 of them.
So rather than list them all here, let's look at a couple of entries that set the scene and then a sample of just a few from the hundreds of false statements, the lies, listed in the database:
January 30, 2001
The new Bush policy was an aggressive agenda for any president, but especially for someone who had previously shown little interest in international affairs. "We're going to correct the imbalances of the previous administration on the Mideast conflict," Bush told his freshly assembled senior national security team in the Situation Room on January 30, 2001.
With America's long struggle to bring peace to the region quickly terminated, George W. Bush could turn his attention to the prime focus of his first National Security Council meeting: ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Condoleezza Rice led off the discussion. But rather than mention anything about threats to the United States or weapons of mass destruction, she noted only "that Iraq might be the key to reshaping the entire region." The words were practically lifted from the "Clean Break" report, which had the rather imperial-sounding subtitle: "A New Strategy for Securing the Realm."
SOURCE: James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies (New York: Doubleday/Random House, 2004), pages 265–267.
September 11, 2001
At 2:40 that afternoon, an aide to the defense secretary jotted notes of Rumsfeld's conversations. Written deep in the War Room, the notes describe the Pentagon chief as wanting "best info fast; judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only U.B.L. [Osama bin Laden]." "Go massive," he noted. "Sweep it all up. Things related, and not."
From the notes it was clear that the attacks would be used as a pretext for war against Saddam Hussein. Despite the fact that there was absolutely no evidence implicating the Iraqi leader, Rumsfeld wanted to "hit S.H. at same time." The idea was to "sweep" him up, whether "related" to 9/11 or "not." Wolfowitz had the same idea and quickly began talking up an Iraqi connection in conference calls with other officials, including Cheney.
SOURCE: James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies (New York: Doubleday/Random House, 2004), page 285.
October 11, 2001
President Bush Holds Prime-Time News Conference [lies are highlighted].
Question: Mr. President, on that note, we understand you have advisers who are urging you to go after Iraq, take out Iraq, Syria, and so forth. Do you really think that the American people will tolerate you widening the war beyond Afghanistan?And I have a follow-up. (Laughter.)
The President: Thank you for warning me. (Laughter.) Our focus is on Afghanistan, and the terrorist network hiding in Afghanistan, right now. But, as well, we're looking for Al Qaeda cells around the world. If we find an Al Qaeda cell operating, we will urge the host country to bring them to justice. And we're having some progress, we're making progress.
We—as I mentioned, Helen, this is a long war against terrorist activity. And the doctrine I spelled out to the American people in front of Congress said not only will we seek out and bring to justice individual terrorists who cause harm to people, to murder people, we will also bring to justice the host governments that sponsor them, that house them and feed them.
You mentioned Iraq. There's no question that the leader of Iraq is an evil man. After all, he gassed his own people. We know he's been developing weapons of mass destruction. And I think it's in his advantage to allow inspectors back in his country to make sure that he's conforming to the agreement he made after he was soundly trounced in the Gulf War. And so we're watching him very carefully. We're watching him carefully.
December 10, 2001
Defense Department News Briefing by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz:
Wolfowitz: With respect to Iraq, I think the president had been very clear, the secretary's been very clear, the combination of support for terrorism with the development of weapons of mass destruction is clearly one of the most dangerous potentials in the world.
September 27, 2002
President Bush Presses Congress for Action on Defense Appropriations Bill:
There's not going to be an easy road to secure our freedom. There is going to be—there are some steep hills to climb. But we're ready to climb them as a nation, I think. There's a steep hill to climb in Iraq. I went to the United Nations the other day, and I want to share with you why I went. First, I wanted to make sure the world heard the case: This man is a dictator who tortures and rapes women—has women raped in order to make a point, who kills, stifles decent through murder. A man who said he would get rid of weapons of mass destruction and still has them. And we need to fear the fact that he has weapons of mass destruction. He's used them before. He's used them on his own people before. He's invaded two countries. He's lied and deceived the world.
The United States is no longer secure because we've got oceans. We're vulnerable to attack, as we learned so vividly. My job is to not only deal with problems—people kind of run around and lurk—my job is also to anticipate problems. My job is to be realistic about our future. My job is to make sure that the world's worst leader is not able to blackmail or hurt America or our friends and allies with the world's worst weapons. We've got to make sure that these dictators aren't able to team up with terrorist groups, use their weapons of mass destruction as a way to intimidate those of us who love freedom.
So I went to the United Nations. My message was, we want you to succeed as an organization. We remember what it was like when the collective body was the League of Nations, unable to stop totalitarianism; that in order to secure the freedom in the 21st century it's important to have an effective body. But you've been ineffective, I said. For 11 long years you have said one thing to the dictator in Iraq, and he has thumbed his nose. For 11 years you've allowed this man to be—to lie and deceive about weapons of mass destruction, and you have not held him to account. And now is the time. For the sake of freedom, you have got a choice: You can hold him to account. And for the sake of freedom, he has got a choice: He can disarm.
There's no negotiations, by the way, for Mr. Saddam Hussein. There's nothing to discuss. He either gets rid of his weapons and the United Nations gets rid of his weapons—(applause)—he can either get rid of his weapons and the United States can act, or the United States will lead a coalition to disarm this man. (Applause.)
February 6, 2003
Statement by President Bush:
The secretary of state [Colin Powell] has now briefed the United Nations Security Council on Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons, and its links to terrorist groups. I want to thank Secretary Powell for his careful and powerful presentation of the facts.
The Iraqi regime's violations of Security Council resolutions are evident, and they continue to this hour. The regime has never accounted for a vast arsenal of deadly biological and chemical weapons. To the contrary, the regime is pursuing an elaborate campaign to conceal its weapons materials, and to hide or intimidate key experts and scientists, all in direct defiance of Security Council 1441.
This deception is directed from the highest levels of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein, his son, the vice president, and the very official responsible for cooperating with inspectors. In intercepted conversations, we have heard orders to conceal materials from the U.N. inspectors. And we have seen through satellite images concealment activity at close to 30 sites, including movement of equipment before inspectors arrive.
The Iraqi regime has actively and secretly attempted to obtain equipment needed to produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Firsthand witnesses have informed us that Iraq has at least seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents, equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery. Using these factories, Iraq could produce within just months hundreds of pounds of biological poisons.
The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. All the world has now seen the footage of an Iraqi Mirage aircraft with a fuel tank modified to spray biological agents over wide areas. Iraq has developed spray devices that could be used on unmanned aerial vehicles with ranges far beyond what is permitted by the Security Council. A UAV launched from a vessel off the American coast could reach hundreds of miles inland.
Iraq has never accounted for thousands of bombs and shells capable of delivering chemical weapons. The regime is actively pursuing components for prohibited ballistic missiles. And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have.
Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with Al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.
We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network, headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner. The network runs a poison and explosive training center in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad. The head of this network traveled to Baghdad for medical treatment and stayed for months. Nearly two dozen associates joined him there and have been operating in Baghdad for more than eight months.
Saddam Hussein has made Iraq into a prison, a poison factory, and a torture chamber for patriots and dissidents. Saddam Hussein has the motive and the means and the recklessness and the hatred to threaten the American people. Saddam Hussein will be stopped.
March 16, 2003
Vice President Dick Cheney, Interview on NBC's Meet the Press
What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq?
Vice President Cheney: Well, I think I've just given it, Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Russert: And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?
Vice President Cheney: I disagree, yes. And you'll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We've got, again, a long record here. It's not as though this is a fresh issue. In the late '70s, Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear reactors from the French. 1981, the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor and stopped his nuclear weapons development at the time. Throughout the '80s, he mounted a new effort. I was told when I was defense secretary before the Gulf War that he was eight to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon. And we found out after the Gulf War that he was within one or two years of having a nuclear weapon because he had a massive effort under way that involved four or five different technologies for enriching uranium to produce fissile material.
We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. [Mohamed] ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past.
How about we use this thread to do something interesting? Pick a few entries in the database, share them here in a comment and share what you think of those particular entries.
As I read the 935 lies listed I'm reminded of an old Iraqi saying, "They make a grain into a kubba." It means the same as "making a mountain out of a molehill." The Bush administration, particularly the hawkish neocons within it, told these lies in order to set the stage for war with Iraq.
I'm also reminded of an old Arab saying, "Lies are accepted once, not twice." Thankfully, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and the ranks of neocons within their administration have not been effective in their effort to set the stage for war once more with another mountain of misinformation.