September of 2002, fully six months before
George W. Bush attacked Iraq, I published
a small book entitled "War on Iraq: What
Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know."
The essential premise of the book was that
the threats surrounding weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq were wildly overblown by the Bush
administration for purely political reasons.
In the opening paragraphs, I framed the argument
According to Bush and the men who are pushing
him towards this war-Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle.The United
States will institute a "regime change"
in Iraq, and bring forth the birth of a
new democracy in the region. Along the way,
we will remove Saddam Hussein, a man who
absolutely, positively has weapons of mass
destruction, a man who will use these weapons
against his neighbors because he has done
so in the past, a man who will give these
terrible weapons to Osama bin Laden for
use against America.
A fairly cut-and-dried case, no? America
is more than prepared to listen to these
pleasing arguments about evil in black and
white, particularly after the horrors of
September 11th. Few can contemplate in comfort
the existence of chemical, biological, and
nuclear weapons in the hands of a madman
like Saddam Hussein. The merest whisper
that he might give these weapons to Qaeda
terrorists is enough to rob any rational
American of sleep. Saddam has been so demonized
in the American media-ever since the first
President Bush compared him to Hitler-that
they believe the case has been fully and
completely made for his immediate removal.
Yet facts are stubborn things, as John Adams
once claimed while successfully defending
British redcoats on trial for the Boston
Massacre. We may hate someone with passion,
and we may fear them in our souls, but if
the facts cannot establish a clear and concise
basis for our fear and hatred, if the facts
do not defend the actions we would take
against them, then we must look elsewhere
for the basis of that fear. Simultaneously,
we must take stock of those stubborn facts,
and understand the manner in which they
define the reality-not the rhetoric-of our
The case for war against Iraq has not been
made. This is a fact. It is doubtful in
the extreme that Saddam Hussein has retained
any functional aspect of the chemical, nuclear,
and biological weapons programs so thoroughly
dismantled by the United Nations weapons
inspectors who worked tirelessly in Iraq
for seven years. This is also a fact.
This was a straightforward argument, set
against stern and unrelenting prophesies
of doom from Bush administration officials,
and from Bush himself. I can tell you, as
the writer, that it was a tough sell. The
facts contained in the book were absolutely
accurate, as has been proven in the aftermath
of war, but Americans are funny. They fall
for Hitler's maxim on lies over and over
again: "The great masses of the people
will more easily fall victim to a big lie
than to a small one." Over and over
and over and over and over again, the American
people were told that Saddam Hussein had
weapons of mass destruction practically
falling out of his ears. The American people
were told that Hussein was giving away these
weapons to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda
the way you and I might give away birthday
for a moment, on this brief timeline:
"Simply stated, there is no doubt
that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass
- Dick Cheney, August 26 2002
"If he declares he has none,
then we will know that Saddam Hussein is
once again misleading the world."
- Ari Fleischer, December 2 2002
"We know for a fact that there
are weapons there."
- Ari Fleischer, January 9 2003
"We know that Saddam Hussein
is determined to keep his weapons of mass
destruction, is determined to make more."
- Colin Powell, February 5 2003
"Well, there is no question that
we have evidence and information that Iraq
has weapons of mass destruction, biological
and chemical particularly . . . all this
will be made clear in the course of the
operation, for whatever duration it takes."
- Ari Fleischer, March 21 2003
"There is no doubt that the regime
of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass
destruction. As this operation continues,
those weapons will be identified, found,
along with the people who have produced
them and who guard them."
- Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22 2003
"We know where they are. They
are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
- Donald Rumsfeld, March 30 2003
"I think you have always heard,
and you continue to hear from officials,
a measure of high confidence that, indeed,
the weapons of mass destruction will be
- Ari Fleischer, April 10 2003
"There are people who in large
measure have information that we need .
. . so that we can track down the weapons
of mass destruction in that country."
- Donald Rumsfeld, April 25 2003
"I am confident that we will
find evidence that makes it clear he had
weapons of mass destruction."
- Colin Powell, May 4 2003
These are the words of administration officials
who were following orders and the party
line. It has been axiomatic for quite a
while now that the people behind the scenes,
and not the Main Man Himself, are running
the ways and means of this administration.
Harken back to the campaign in 2000, when
the glaring deficiencies in ability and
experience displayed by George W. Bush were
salved by the fact that a number of heavy
hitters would be backstopping him. Yet a
Democrat named Harry Truman once said, "The
buck stops here." What did the man
in receipt of said stopped buck have to
say on the matter?
"Right now, Iraq is expanding
and improving facilities that were used
for the production of biological weapons."
- George W. Bush, September 12 2002
"Our intelligence officials estimate
that Saddam Hussein had the materials to
produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard
and VX nerve agent."
- George W. Bush, State of the Union
address, January 28 2003
"We have sources that tell us
that Saddam Hussein recently authorized
Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons
-- the very weapons the dictator tells us
he does not have."
- George Bush, February 8 2003
"Intelligence gathered by this
and other governments leaves no doubt that
the Iraq regime continues to possess and
conceal some of the most lethal weapons
- George Bush, March 17 2003
"We are learning more as we interrogate
or have discussions with Iraqi scientists
and people within the Iraqi structure, that
perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed
some. And so we will find them."
- George Bush, April 24 2003
"We'll find them. It'll be a
matter of time to do so."
- George Bush, May 3 2003
"I'm not surprised if we begin
to uncover the weapons program of Saddam
Hussein -- because he had a weapons program."
- George W. Bush, May 6 2003
It has become all too clear in the last
several days that the horrid descriptions
of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were
nothing more than the Big Lie which Hitler
described. The American people, being the
trusting TV-stoned folks they are, bought
this WMD lie bag and baggage. Imagine the
shock within the administration when Lieutenant
General James Conway, top US Marine Commander
in Iraq, said that American intelligence
on Iraqi WMDs was "Simply wrong."
Conway went on to state about the WMDs that,
"We've been to virtually every ammunition
supply point between the Kuwaiti border
and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
Imagine the consternation within the administration
when Deputy Secretary of the Department
of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said on May 28
that, "For bureaucratic reasons, we
settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction
(as justification for invading Iraq) because
it was the one reason everyone could agree
on." A short translation of that comment
is as straightforward as one can get - There
was no real threat of WMDs, but everyone
who wanted the war for whatever reasons
decided to settle on that concept because
it was an easy sell to Americans still traumatized
by September 11.
Imagine the teeth-gnashing within the administration
when Patrick Lang, former head of worldwide
human intelligence gathering for the Defense
Intelligence Agency, accused Defense Secretary
Don Rumsfeld's personal intelligence team
of having "cherry-picked the intelligence
stream" to make it seem like the WMD
threat in Iraq was real. Lang went on to
say that the DIA was "exploited and
abused and bypassed in the process of making
the case for war in Iraq based on the presence
of WMD." Vince Cannistraro, former
chief of the CIA counterterrorist operations,
described serving intelligence officers
who blame the Pentagon for proffering "fraudulent"
intelligence, "a lot of it sourced
from the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad
Ahmad Chalabi, it should be noted, is the
hand-picked-by-Don-Rumsfeld successor to
power in Iraq. Chalabi was convicted in
1992 of 31 counts of bank fraud and embezzlement
in Jordan and sentenced to 22 years hard
labor in absentia. Even the most optimistic
of intelligence observers take what he has
to say with a massive grain of salt. Certainly,
as the chosen leader of Iraq - a position
he has enjoyed thanks to Rumsfeld and his
cabal since 1997 - Chalabi had no reason
whatsoever to exaggerate or lie about Iraq's
weapons program. Of course.
The process of proving the presence of Iraqi
WMDs has been tortured, to say the least.
Bush at one point described recent Iraqi
efforts to purchase "significant quantities
of uranium from Africa." Greg Thielmann,
recently resigned from the State Department's
Bureau of Intelligence and Research, was
appalled by these claims. "When I saw
that, I was really blown away," said
Thielmann. His Bureau of Intelligence and
Research had absolutely debunked this claim.
The documents used to support the accusation
were crude forgeries - the name on the letterhead
of the main evidentiary document was that
of a Nigerian minister who had been out
of office for ten years. When he saw that
Bush was using the fraudulent documentation
to back up his claims, he thought to himself,
"Not that stupid piece of garbage,"
according to Newsweek.
And then, of course, there was the famous
presentation by Colin Powell to the UN on
February 5th. Powell held aloft a British
Intelligence dossier on the current status
of Iraqi weapons, praised it lavishly, and
used it as the central underpinnings of
his argument that Iraq was a clear and present
danger. It came to light some days later
that vast swaths of the dossier he praised
had been plagiarized from a magazine article
penned five months earlier by a California
graduate student from California whose focus
had been Iraq circa 1991. You can read more
on this aspect of the mess in my article
from that time entitled <http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/020803A.htm>Blair,
Powell UN Report Written By Student. Last
week, Powell described this profoundly flawed
UN presentation as "the best analytic
product that we could have put up."
The aggravation within the administration,
after all these statements, caused George
W. Bush to exclaim on May 30, "But
for those who say we haven't found the banned
manufacturing devices or banned weapons,
they're wrong, we found them." He was
referring to an alleged Iraqi mobile chemical
laboratory, one of the "Winnebagos
of Death" described by Colin Powell.
Said mobile facility contained exactly zero
evidence of having been used to produce
weapons of any kind, and was in fact most
likely used as a mobile food testing platform
in the service of Saddam Hussein, who was
always paranoid about assassination.
Over 170 American soldiers died in the second
war in Iraq. The Iraqi populace is deeply
angered by the American presence in their
country, and they are armed to the teeth.
More soldiers will die in the impossible
police action that has become victory's
inheritance. Thousands of Iraqi civilians
have died, along with untold scores of Iraqi
soldiers. The Middle East has been inflamed
by the war; bombings in Riyadh and Casablanca
provide a bleak preview of what is to come.
According to Mr. Bush, the entire thing
was aimed at that one mobile lab. The thousands
of tons of WMDs we were promised do not
exist, so that empty mobile lab is what
we must settle for if we are to justify
this war in our hearts and minds.
Once upon a time, we impeached a sitting
President for lying under oath about sexual
trysts. No one died, no one had their legs
or arms or face or genitals blown off because
of the lies of a President who had been
caught with his pants down. Today in America,
we endure a sitting President who lied for
months about the threat posed by a sovereign
nation. That nation was invaded and attacked,
and thousands died because of it. The aftereffects
of this action will be felt for generations
to come. The very democracy which gives
us meaning as a country has been put in
peril by these deeds. When the smoke cleared,
every reason for that war was proven to
be a lie.
Of course, there will be no impeachment
with a Republican Congress. This must not
dissuade us from demanding satisfaction.
Let the House be brought to order. Gavel
the members to attention, and let the evidence
be brought forth. Let there be justice for
the living and the dead. Let this man Bush
be impeached and cleansed from office for
the lies he has told. These are not innocent
lies. The dead remember.
Rivers Pitt is a New York Times best-selling
author of two books - "War On Iraq"
available now from Context Books, and "The
Greatest Sedition is Silence," now
available from Pluto Press at
Scott Lowery contributed research to this
report. Bill Chirolas located the administration
t r u t h o u t 2003
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