1) The administration was not bent on war with Iraq from 9/11 onward.
Throughout the year leading up to war, the White House publicly maintained that
the U.S. took weapons inspections seriously, that diplomacy would get its chance,
that Saddam had the opportunity to prevent a U.S. invasion. The most pungent and
concise evidence to the contrary comes from the president's own mouth. According
to Time's March 31 road-to-war story, Bush popped in on national security adviser
Condi Rice one day in March 2002, interrupting a meeting on UN sanctions against
Iraq. Getting a whiff of the subject matter, W peremptorily waved his hand and
told her, "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out." Clare Short, Tony Blair's
former secretary for international development, recently lent further credence
to the anecdote. She told the London Guardian that Bush and Blair made a secret
pact a few months afterward, in the summer of 2002, to invade Iraq in either February
or March of this year.
Last fall CBS News obtained meeting notes taken by a Rumsfeld aide at 2:40
on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The notes indicate that Rumsfeld wanted
the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein]
at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden].... Go massive. Sweep it all up.
Things related and not."
Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, the Bushmen's leading intellectual light,
has long been rabid on the subject of Iraq. He reportedly told Vanity Fair writer
Sam Tanenhaus off the record that he believes Saddam was connected not only
to bin Laden and 9/11, but the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
The Bush administration's foreign policy plan was not based on September 11,
or terrorism; those events only brought to the forefront a radical plan for
U.S. control of the post-Cold War world that had been taking shape since the
closing days of the first Bush presidency. Back then a small claque of planners,
led by Wolfowitz, generated a draft document known as Defense Planning Guidance,
which envisioned a U.S. that took advantage of its lone-superpower status to
consolidate American control of the world both militarily and economically,
to the point where no other nation could ever reasonably hope to challenge the
U.S. Toward that end it envisioned what we now call "preemptive" wars
waged to reset the geopolitical table.
After a copy of DPG was leaked to the New York Times, subsequent drafts were
rendered a little less frank, but the basic idea never changed. In 1997 Wolfowitz
and his true believers--Richard Perle, William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Donald
Rumsfeld--formed an organization called Project for the New American Century
to carry their cause forward. And though they all flocked around the Bush administration
from the start, W never really embraced their plan until the events of September
11 left him casting around for a foreign policy plan.
Ventriloquist Dick Cheney
in a rare appearance with his most famous work
2) The invasion of Iraq was based on a reasonable belief that Iraq
possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the U.S., a belief
supported by available intelligence evidence.
Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that weapons of mass destruction were
not really the main reason for invading Iraq: "The decision to highlight
weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for going to war in Iraq
was taken for bureaucratic reasons.... [T]here were many other important factors
as well." Right. But they did not come under the heading of self-defense.
We now know how the Bushmen gathered their prewar intelligence: They set out
to patch together their case for invading Iraq and ignored everything that contradicted
it. In the end, this required that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al. set aside the
findings of analysts from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (the Pentagon's
own spy bureau) and stake their claim largely on the basis of isolated, anecdotal
testimony from handpicked Iraqi defectors. (See #5, Ahmed Chalabi.) But the
administration did not just listen to the defectors; it promoted their claims
in the press as a means of enlisting public opinion. The only reason so many
Americans thought there was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda in the
first place was that the Bushmen trotted out Iraqi defectors making these sorts
of claims to every major media outlet that would listen.
Here is the verdict of Gregory Thielman, the recently retired head of the State
Department's intelligence office: "I believe the Bush administration did
not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat
posed by Iraq. This administration has had a faith-based intelligence attitude--we
know the answers, give us the intelligence to support those answers." Elsewhere
he has been quoted as saying, "The principal reasons that Americans did
not understand the nature of the Iraqi threat in my view was the failure of
senior administration officials to speak honestly about what the intelligence
3) Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger.
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
8) Saddam was involved with bin Laden and al Qaeda in the plotting
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
10) Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress are a homegrown Iraqi
political force, not a U.S.-sponsored front.
Chalabi is a more important bit player in the Iraq war than most people realize,
and not because he was the U.S.'s failed choice to lead a post-Saddam government.
It was Chalabi and his INC that funneled compliant defectors to the Bush administration,
where they attested to everything the Bushmen wanted to believe about Saddam
and Iraq (meaning, mainly, al Qaeda connections and WMD programs). The administration
proceeded to take their dubious word over that of the combined intelligence
of the CIA and DIA, which indicated that Saddam was not in the business of sponsoring
foreign terrorism and posed no imminent threat to anyone.
Naturally Chalabi is despised nowadays round the halls of Langley, but it wasn't
always so. The CIA built the Iraqi National Congress and installed Chalabi at
the helm back in the days following Gulf War I, when the thought was to topple
Saddam by whipping up and sponsoring an internal opposition. It didn't work;
from the start Iraqis have disliked and distrusted Chalabi. Moreover, his erratic
and duplicitous ways have alienated practically everyone in the U.S. foreign
policy establishment as well--except for Rumsfeld's Department of Defense, and
therefore the White House.
11) The United States is waging a war on terror.
Practically any school child could recite the terms of the Bush Doctrine, and
may have to before the Ashcroft Justice Department is finished: The global war
on terror is about confronting terrorist groups and the nations that harbor
them. The United States does not make deals with terrorists or nations where
they find safe lodging.
Leave aside the blind eye that the U.S. has always cast toward Israel's actions
in the territories. How are the Bushmen doing elsewhere vis-à-vis their
announced principles? We can start with their fabrications and manipulations
of Iraqi WMD evidence--which, in the eyes of weapons inspectors, the UN Security
Council, American intelligence analysts, and the world at large, did not pose
any imminent threat.
The events of recent months have underscored a couple more gaping violations
of W's cardinal anti-terror rules. In April the Pentagon made a cooperation
pact with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iranian terrorist group based
in Iraq. Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, American intelligence blamed
it for the death of several U.S. nationals in Iran.
Most glaring of all is the Bush administration's remarkable treatment of Saudi
Arabia. Consider: Eleven of the nineteen September 11 hijackers were Saudis.
The ruling House of Saud has longstanding and well-known ties to al Qaeda and
other terrorist outfits, which it funds (read protection money) to keep them
from making mischief at home. The May issue of Atlantic Monthly had a nice piece
on the House of Saud that recounts these connections.
Yet the Bush government has never said boo regarding the Saudis and international
terrorism. In fact, when terror bombers struck Riyadh in May, hitting compounds
that housed American workers as well, Colin Powell went out of his way to avoid
tarring the House of Saud: "Terrorism strikes everywhere and everyone.
It is a threat to the civilized world. We will commit ourselves again to redouble
our efforts to work closely with our Saudi friends and friends all around the
world to go after al Qaeda." Later it was alleged that the Riyadh bombers
purchased some of their ordnance from the Saudi National Guard, but neither
Powell nor anyone else saw fit to revise their statements about "our Saudi
Why do the Bushmen give a pass to the Saudi terror hotbed? Because the House
of Saud controls a lot of oil, and they are still (however tenuously) on our
side. And that, not terrorism, is what matters most in Bush's foreign policy
While the bomb craters in Riyadh were still smoking, W held a meeting with
Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Speaking publicly afterward, he
outlined a deal for U.S. military aid to the Philippines in exchange for greater
"cooperation" in getting American hands round the throats of Filipino
terrorists. He mentioned in particular the U.S.'s longtime nemesis Abu Sayyaf--and
he also singled out the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a small faction based
on Mindanao, the southernmost big island in the Philippine chain.
Of course it's by purest coincidence that Mindanao is the location of Asia's
richest oil reserves.
Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bush:
The truth will not set them free
12) The U.S. has made progress against world terrorist elements, in
particular by crippling al Qaeda.
A resurgent al Qaeda has been making international news since around the time
of the Saudi Arabia bombings in May. The best coverage by far is that of Asia
Times correspondent Syed Saleem Shahzad. According to Shahzad's detailed accounts,
al Qaeda has reorganized itself along leaner, more diffuse lines, effectively
dissolving itself into a coalition of localized units that mean to strike frequently,
on a small scale, and in multiple locales around the world. Since claiming responsibility
for the May Riyadh bombings, alleged al Qaeda communiqués have also claimed
credit for some of the strikes at U.S. troops in Iraq.
13) The Bush administration has made Americans safer from terror on
Like the Pentagon "plan" for occupying postwar Iraq, the Department
of Homeland Security is mainly a Bush administration PR dirigible untethered
to anything of substance. It's a scandal waiting to happen, and the only good
news for W is that it's near the back of a fairly long line of scandals waiting
On May 26 the trade magazine Federal Computer Week published a report on DHS's
first 100 days. At that point the nerve center of Bush's domestic war on terror
had only recently gotten e-mail service. As for the larger matter of creating
a functioning organizational grid and, more important, a software architecture
plan for integrating the enormous mass of data that DHS is supposed to process--nada.
In the nearly two years since the administration announced its intention to
create a cabinet-level homeland security office, nothing meaningful has been
accomplished. And there are no funds to implement a network plan if they had
one. According to the magazine, "Robert David Steele, an author and former
intelligence officer, points out that there are at least 30 separate intelligence
systems [theoretically feeding into DHS] and no money to connect them to one
another or make them interoperable. 'There is nothing in the president's homeland
security program that makes America safer,' he said."
14) The Bush administration has nothing to hide concerning the events
of September 11, 2001, or the intelligence evidence collected prior to that
First Dick Cheney personally intervened to scuttle a broad congressional investigation
of the day's events and their origins. And for the past several months the administration
has fought a quiet rear-guard action culminating in last week's delayed release
of Congress's more modest 9/11 report. The White House even went so far as to
classify after the fact materials that had already been presented in public
What were they trying to keep under wraps? The Saudi connection, mostly, and
though 27 pages of the details have been excised from the public report, there
is still plenty of evidence lurking in its extensively massaged text. (When
you see the phrase "foreign nation" substituted in brackets, it's
nearly always Saudi Arabia.) The report documents repeated signs that there
was a major attack in the works with extensive help from Saudi nationals and
apparently also at least one member of the government. It also suggests that
is one reason intel operatives didn't chase the story harder: Saudi Arabia was
by policy fiat a "friendly" nation and therefore no threat. The report
does not explore the administration's response to the intelligence briefings
it got; its purview is strictly the performance of intelligence agencies. All
other questions now fall to the independent 9/11 commission, whose work is presently
being slowed by the White House's foot-dragging in turning over evidence.
15) U.S. air defenses functioned according to protocols on September
Old questions abound here. The central mystery, of how U.S. air defenses could
have responded so poorly on that day, is fairly easy to grasp. A cursory look
at that morning's timeline of events is enough. In very short strokes:
8:13 Flight 11 disobeys air traffic instructions and turns
off its transponder.
8:40 NORAD command center claims first notification of likely
Flight 11 hijacking.
8:42 Flight 175 veers off course and shuts down its transponder.
8:43 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 175 hijacking.
8:46 Flight 11 hits the World Trade Center north tower.
8:46 Flight 77 goes off course.
9:03 Flight 175 hits the WTC south tower.
9:16 Flight 93 goes off course.
9:16 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 93 hijacking.
9:24 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 77 hijacking.
9:37 Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.
10:06 Flight 93 crashes in a Pennsylvania field.
The open secret here is that stateside U.S. air defenses had been reduced to
paltry levels since the end of the Cold War. According to a report by Paul Thompson
published at the endlessly informative Center for Cooperative Research website
"[O]nly two air force bases in the Northeast region... were formally part
of NORAD's defensive system. One was Otis Air National Guard Base, on Massachusetts's
Cape Cod peninsula and about 188 miles east of New York City. The other was
Langley Air Force Base near Norfolk, Virginia, and about 129 miles south of
Washington. During the Cold War, the U.S. had literally thousands of fighters
on alert. But as the Cold War wound down, this number was reduced until it reached
only 14 fighters in the continental U.S. by 9/11."
But even an underpowered air defense system on slow-response status (15 minutes,
officially, on 9/11) does not explain the magnitude of NORAD's apparent failures
that day. Start with the discrepancy in the times at which NORAD commanders
claim to have learned of the various hijackings. By 8:43 a.m., NORAD had been
notified of two probable hijackings in the previous five minutes. If there was
such a thing as a system-wide air defense crisis plan, it should have kicked
in at that moment. Three minutes later, at 8:46, Flight 11 crashed into the
first WTC tower. By then alerts should have been going out to all regional air
traffic centers of apparent coordinated hijackings in progress. Yet when Flight
77, which eventually crashed into the Pentagon, was hijacked three minutes later,
at 8:46, NORAD claims not to have learned of it until 9:24, 38 minutes after
the fact and just 13 minutes before it crashed into the Pentagon.
The professed lag in reacting to the hijacking of Flight 93 is just as striking.
NORAD acknowledged learning of the hijacking at 9:16, yet the Pentagon's position
is that it had not yet intercepted the plane when it crashed in a Pennsylvania
field just minutes away from Washington, D.C. at 10:06, a full 50 minutes later.
In fact, there are a couple of other circumstantial details of the crash, discussed
mostly in Pennsylvania newspapers and barely noted in national wire stories,
that suggest Flight 93 may have been shot down after all. First, officials never
disputed reports that there was a secondary debris field six miles from the
main crash site, and a few press accounts said that it included one of the plane's
engines. A secondary debris field points to an explosion on board, from one
of two probable causes--a terrorist bomb carried on board or an Air Force missile.
And no investigation has ever intimated that any of the four terror crews were
toting explosives. They kept to simple tools like the box cutters, for ease
in passing security. Second, a handful of eyewitnesses in the rural area around
the crash site did report seeing low-flying U.S. military jets around the time
of the crash.
Which only raises another question. Shooting down Flight 93 would have been
incontestably the right thing to do under the circumstances. More than that,
it would have constituted the only evidence of anything NORAD and the Pentagon
had done right that whole morning. So why deny it? Conversely, if fighter jets
really were not on the scene when 93 crashed, why weren't they? How could that
16) The Bush administration had a plan for restoring essential services
and rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after the shooting war ended.
The question of what the U.S. would do to rebuild Iraq was raised before the
shooting started. I remember reading a press briefing in which a Pentagon official
boasted that at the time, the American reconstruction team had already spent
three weeks planning the postwar world! The Pentagon's first word was that the
essentials of rebuilding the country would take about $10 billion and three
months; this stood in fairly stark contrast to UN estimates that an aggressive
rebuilding program could cost up to $100 billion a year for a minimum of three
After the shooting stopped it was evident the U.S. had no plan for keeping
order in the streets, much less commencing to rebuild. (They are upgrading certain
oil facilities, but that's another matter.) There are two ways to read this.
The popular version is that it proves what bumblers Bush and his crew really
are. And it's certainly true that where the details of their grand designs are
concerned, the administration tends to have postures rather than plans. But
this ignores the strategic advantages the U.S. stands to reap by leaving Iraqi
domestic affairs in a chronic state of (managed, they hope) chaos. Most important,
it provides an excuse for the continued presence of a large U.S. force, which
ensures that America will call the shots in putting Iraqi oil back on the world
market and seeing to it that the Iraqis don't fall in with the wrong sort of
oil company partners. A long military occupation is also a practical means of
accomplishing something the U.S. cannot do officially, which is to maintain
air bases in Iraq indefinitely. (This became necessary after the U.S. agreed
to vacate its bases in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to try to defuse anti-U.S.
political tensions there.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to pay for whatever rebuilding it gets around to
doing with the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales, an enormous cash box the U.S. will
oversee for the good of the Iraqi people.
In other words, "no plan" may have been the plan the Bushmen were
intent on pursuing all along.
17) The U.S. has made a good-faith effort at peacekeeping in Iraq during
the postwar period.
"Some [looters] shot big grins at American soldiers and Marines or put
down their prizes to offer a thumbs-up or a quick finger across the throat and
a whispered word--Saddam--before grabbing their loot and vanishing."
--Robert Fisk, London Independent, 4/11/03
Despite the many clashes between U.S. troops and Iraqis in the three months
since the heavy artillery fell silent, the postwar performance of U.S. forces
has been more remarkable for the things they have not done--their failure to
intervene in civil chaos or to begin reestablishing basic civil procedures.
It isn't the soldiers' fault. Traditionally an occupation force is headed up
by military police units schooled to interact with the natives and oversee the
restoration of goods and services. But Rumsfeld has repeatedly declined advice
to rotate out the combat troops sooner rather than later and replace some of
them with an MP force. Lately this has been a source of escalating criticism
within military ranks.
18) Despite vocal international opposition, the U.S. was backed by
most of the world, as evidenced by the 40-plus-member Coalition of the Willing.
When the whole world opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the outcry was so loud
that it briefly pierced the slumber of the American public, which poured out
its angst in poll numbers that bespoke little taste for a war without the UN's
blessing. So it became necessary to assure the folks at home that the whole
world was in fact for the invasion. Thus was born the Coalition of the Willing,
consisting of the U.S. and UK, with Australia caddying--and 40-some additional
co-champions of U.S.-style democracy in the Middle East, whose ranks included
such titans of diplomacy and pillars of representative government as Angola,
Azerbaijan, Colombia, Eritrea, and Micronesia. If the American public noticed
the ruse, all was nonetheless forgotten when Baghdad fell. Everybody loves a
19) This war was notable for its protection of civilians.
This from the Herald of Scotland, May 23: "American guns, bombs, and missiles
killed more civilians in the recent war in Iraq than in any conflict since Vietnam,
according to preliminary assessments carried out by the UN, international aid
agencies, and independent study groups. Despite U.S. boasts this was the fastest,
most clinical campaign in military history, a first snapshot of 'collateral
damage' indicates that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi non-combatants died in
the course of the hi-tech blitzkrieg."
20) The looting of archaeological and historic sites in Baghdad was
General Jay Garner himself, then the head man for postwar Iraq, told the Washington
Times that he had put the Iraqi National Museum second on a list of sites requiring
protection after the fall of the Saddam government, and he had no idea why the
recommendation was ignored. It's also a matter of record that the administration
had met in January with a group of U.S. scholars concerned with the preservation
of Iraq's fabulous Sumerian antiquities. So the war planners were aware of the
riches at stake. According to Scotland's Sunday Herald, the Pentagon took at
least one other meeting as well: "[A] coalition of antiquities collectors
and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP),
met with U.S. Defense and State department officials prior to the start of military
action to offer its assistance.... The group is known to consist of a number
of influential dealers who favor a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on
the ownership and export of antiquities.... [Archaeological Institute of America]
president Patty Gerstenblith said: 'The ACCP's agenda is to encourage the collecting
of antiquities through weakening the laws of archaeologically rich nations and
eliminate national ownership of antiquities to allow for easier export.'"
21) Saddam was planning to provide WMD to terrorist groups.
This is very concisely debunked in Walter Pincus's July 21 Washington Post
story, so I'll quote him: "'Iraq could decide on any given day to provide
a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists,'
President Bush said in Cincinnati on October 7.... But declassified portions
of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday by the
White House show that at the time of the president's speech the U.S. intelligence
community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, which began
circulating October 2, shows the intelligence services were much more worried
that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were facing death
or capture and his government was collapsing after a military attack by the
22) Saddam was capable of launching a chemical or biological attack
in 45 minutes.
Again the WashPost wraps it up nicely: "The 45-minute claim is at the
center of a scandal in Britain that led to the apparent suicide on Friday of
a British weapons scientist who had questioned the government's use of the allegation.
The scientist, David Kelly, was being investigated by the British parliament
as the suspected source of a BBC report that the 45-minute claim was added to
Britain's public 'dossier' on Iraq in September at the insistence of an aide
to Prime Minister Tony Blair--and against the wishes of British intelligence,
which said the charge was from a single source and was considered unreliable."
23) The Bush administration is seeking to create a viable Palestinian
The interests of the U.S. toward the Palestinians have not changed--not yet,
at least. Israel's "security needs" are still the U.S.'s sturdiest
pretext for its military role in policing the Middle East and arming its Israeli
proxies. But the U.S.'s immediate needs have tilted since the invasions of Afghanistan
and Iraq. Now the Bushmen need a fig leaf--to confuse, if not exactly cover,
their designs, and to give shaky pro-U.S. governments in the region some scrap
to hold out to their own restive peoples. Bush's roadmap has scared the hell
out of the Israeli right, but they have little reason to worry. Press reports
in the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly telegraphed the assurance that Bush won't
try to push Ariel Sharon any further than he's comfortable going.
24) People detained by the U.S. after 9/11 were legitimate terror suspects.
Quite the contrary, as disclosed officially in last month's critical report
on U.S. detainees from the Justice Department's own Office of Inspector General.
A summary analysis of post-9/11 detentions posted at the UC-Davis website states,
"None of the 1,200 foreigners arrested and detained in secret after September
11 was charged with an act of terrorism. Instead, after periods of detention
that ranged from weeks to months, most were deported for violating immigration
laws. The government said that 752 of 1,200 foreigners arrested after September
11 were in custody in May 2002, but only 81 were still in custody in September
25) The U.S. is obeying the Geneva conventions in its treatment of
terror-related suspects, prisoners, and detainees.
The entire mumbo-jumbo about "unlawful combatants" was conceived
to skirt the Geneva conventions on treatment of prisoners by making them out
to be something other than POWs. Here is the actual wording of Donald Rumsfeld's
pledge, freighted with enough qualifiers to make it absolutely meaningless:
"We have indicated that we do plan to, for the most part, treat them in
a manner that is reasonably consistent with the Geneva conventions to the extent
they are appropriate." Meanwhile the administration has treated its prisoners--many
of whom, as we are now seeing confirmed in legal hearings, have no plausible
connection to terrorist enterprises--in a manner that blatantly violates several
key Geneva provisions regarding humane treatment and housing.
26) Shots rang out from the Palestine hotel, directed at U.S. soldiers,
just before a U.S. tank fired on the hotel, killing two journalists.
Eyewitnesses to the April 8 attack uniformly denied any gunfire from the hotel.
And just two hours prior to firing on the hotel, U.S. forces had bombed the
Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera, killing a Jordanian reporter. Taken together,
and considering the timing, they were deemed a warning to unembedded journalists
covering the fall of Baghdad around them. The day's events seem to have been
an extreme instance of a more surreptitious pattern of hostility demonstrated
by U.S. and UK forces toward foreign journalists and those non-attached Western
reporters who moved around the country at will. (One of them, Terry Lloyd of
Britain's ITN, was shot to death by UK troops at a checkpoint in late March
under circumstances the British government has refused to disclose.)
Some days after firing on the Palestine Hotel, the U.S. sent in a commando
unit to raid select floors of the hotel that were known to be occupied by journalists,
and the news gatherers were held on the floor at gunpoint while their rooms
were searched. A Centcom spokesman later explained cryptically that intelligence
reports suggested there were people "not friendly to the U.S." staying
at the hotel. Allied forces also bombed the headquarters of Abu Dhabi TV, injuring
The president instructs naval
planners in the finer points of three-card monte
27) U.S. troops "rescued" Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi
If I had wanted to run up the tally of administration lies, the Lynch episode
alone could be parsed into several more. Officials claimed that Lynch and her
comrades were taken after a firefight in which Lynch battled back bravely. Later
they announced with great fanfare that U.S. Special Forces had rescued Lynch
from her captors. They reported that she had been shot and stabbed. Later yet,
they reported that the recuperating Lynch had no memory of the events.
Bit by bit it all proved false. Lynch's injuries occurred when the vehicle
she was riding in crashed. She did not fire on anybody and she was not shot
or stabbed. The Iraqi soldiers who had been holding her had abandoned the hospital
where she was staying the night before U.S. troops came to get her--a development
her "rescuers" were aware of. In fact her doctor had tried to return
her to the Americans the previous evening after the Iraqi soldiers left. But
he was forced to turn back when U.S. troops fired on the approaching ambulance.
As for Lynch's amnesia, her family has told reporters her memory is perfectly
28) The populace of Baghdad and of Iraq generally turned out en masse
to greet U.S. troops as liberators.
There were indeed scattered expressions of thanks when U.S. divisions rolled
in, but they were neither as extensive nor as enthusiastic as Bush image-makers
pretended. Within a day or two of the Saddam government's fall, the scene in
the Baghdad streets turned to wholesale ransacking and vandalism. Within the
week, large-scale protests of the U.S. occupation had already begun occurring
in every major Iraqi city.
29) A spontaneous crowd of cheering Iraqis showed up in a Baghdad square
to celebrate the toppling of Saddam's statue.
A long-distance shot of the same scene that was widely posted on the internet
shows that the teeming mob consisted of only one or two hundred souls, contrary
to the impression given by all the close-up TV news shots of what appeared to
be a massive gathering. It was later reported that members of Ahmed Chalabi's
local entourage made up most of the throng.
30) No major figure in the Bush administration said that the Iraqi
populace would turn out en masse to welcome the U.S. military as liberators.
When confronted with--oh, call them reality deficits--one habit of the Bushmen
is to deny that they made erroneous or misleading statements to begin with,
secure in the knowledge that the media will rarely muster the energy to look
it up and call them on it. They did it when their bold prewar WMD predictions
failed to pan out (We never said it would be easy! No, they only implied it),
and they did it when the "jubilant Iraqis" who took to the streets
after the fall of Saddam turned out to be anything but (We never promised they
would welcome us with open arms!).
But they did. March 16, Dick Cheney, Meet the Press: The Iraqis are desperate
"to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United
States when we come to do that.... [T]he vast majority of them would turn on
[Saddam] in a minute if, in fact, they thought they could do so safely").
31) The U.S. achieved its stated objectives in Afghanistan, and vanquished
According to accounts in the Asia Times of Hong Kong, the U.S. held a secret
meeting earlier this year with Taliban leaders and Pakistani intelligence officials
to offer a deal to the Taliban for inclusion in the Afghan government. (Main
condition: Dump Mullah Omar.) As Michael Tomasky commented in The American Prospect,
"The first thing you may be wondering: Why is there a possible role for
the Taliban in a future government? Isn't that fellow Hamid Karzai running things,
and isn't it all going basically okay? As it turns out, not really and not at
all.... The reality... is an escalating guerilla war in which 'small hit-and-run
attacks are a daily feature in most parts of the country, while face-to-face
skirmishes are common in the former Taliban stronghold around Kandahar in the
32) Careful science demonstrates that depleted uranium is no big risk
to the population.
Pure nonsense. While the government has trotted out expert after expert to
debunk the dangers of depleted uranium, DU has been implicated in health troubles
experienced both by Iraqis and by U.S. and allied soldiers in the first Gulf
War. Unexploded DU shells are not a grave danger, but detonated ones release
particles that eventually find their way into air, soil, water, and food.
While we're on the subject, the BBC reported a couple of months ago that recent
tests of Afghani civilians have turned up with unusually high concentrations
of non-depleted uranium isotopes in their urine. International monitors have
called it almost conclusive evidence that the U.S. used a new kind of uranium-laced
bomb in the Afghan war.
33) The looting of Iraqi nuclear facilities presented no big risk to
Commanders on the scene, and Rumsfeld back in Washington, immediately assured
everyone that the looting of a facility where raw uranium powder (so-called
"yellowcake") and several other radioactive isotopes were stored was
no serious danger to the populace--yet the looting of the facility came to light
in part because, as the Washington Times noted, "U.S. and British newspaper
reports have suggested that residents of the area were suffering from severe
ill health after tipping out yellowcake powder from barrels and using them to
34) U.S. troops were under attack when they fired upon a crowd of civilian
protesters in Mosul.
April 15: U.S. troops fire into a crowd of protesters when it grows angry at
the pro-Western speech being given by the town's new mayor, Mashaan al-Juburi.
Seven are killed and dozens injured. Eyewitness accounts say the soldiers spirit
Juburi away as he is pelted with objects by the crowd, then take sniper positions
and begin firing on the crowd.
35) U.S. troops were under attack when they fired upon two separate
crowds of civilian protesters in Fallujah.
April 28: American troops fire into a crowd of demonstrators gathered on Saddam's
birthday, killing 13 and injuring 75. U.S. commanders claim the troops had come
under fire, but eyewitnesses contradict the account, saying the troops started
shooting after they were spooked by warning shots fired over the crowd by one
of the Americans' own Humvees. Two days later U.S. soldiers fired on another
crowd in Fallujah, killing three more.
36) The Iraqis fighting occupation forces consist almost entirely of
"Saddam supporters" or "Ba'ath remnants."
This has been the subject of considerable spin on the Bushmen's part in the
past month, since they launched Operation Sidewinder to capture or kill remaining
opponents of the U.S. occupation. It's true that the most fierce (but by no
means all) of the recent guerrilla opposition has been concentrated in the Sunni-dominated
areas that were Saddam's stronghold, and there is no question that Saddam partisans
are numerous there. But, perhaps for that reason, many other guerrilla fighters
have flocked there to wage jihad, both from within and without Iraq. Around
the time of the U.S. invasion, some 10,000 or so foreign fighters had crossed
into Iraq, and I've seen no informed estimate of how many more may have joined
(No room here, but if you check the online version of this story, there's a
footnote regarding one less-than-obvious reason former Republican Guard personnel
may be fighting mad at this point.)
37) The bidding process for Iraq rebuilding contracts displayed no
favoritism toward Bush and Cheney's oil/gas cronies.
Most notoriously, Dick Cheney's former energy-sector employer, Halliburton,
was all over the press dispatches about the first round of rebuilding contracts.
So much so that they were eventually obliged to bow out of the running for a
$1 billion reconstruction contract for the sake of their own PR profile. But
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root still received the first major plum
in the form of a $7 billion contract to tend to oil field fires and (the real
purpose) to do any retooling necessary to get the oil pumping at a decent rate,
a deal that allows them a cool $500 million in profit. The fact that Dick Cheney's
office is still fighting tooth and nail to block any disclosure of the individuals
and companies with whom his energy task force consulted tells everything you
need to know.
38) "We found the WMDs!"
There have been at least half a dozen junctures at which the Bushmen have breathlessly
informed the press that allied troops had found the WMD smoking gun, including
the president himself, who on June 1 told reporters, "For those who say
we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're
wrong, we found them."
Shouldn't these quickly falsified statements be counted as errors rather than
lies? Under the circumstances, no. First, there is just too voluminous a record
of the administration going on the media offensive to tout lines they know to
be flimsy. This appears to be more of same. Second, if the great genius Karl
Rove and the rest of the Bushmen have demonstrated that they understand anything
about the propaganda potential of the historical moment they've inherited, they
surely understand that repetition is everything. Get your message out regularly,
and even if it's false a good many people will believe it.
Finally, we don't have to speculate about whether the administration would
really plant bogus WMD evidence in the American media, because they have already
done it, most visibly in the case of Judith Miller of the New York Times and
the Iraqi defector "scientist" she wrote about at the military's behest
on April 21. Miller did not even get to speak with the purported scientist,
but she graciously passed on several things American commanders claimed he said:
that Iraq only destroyed its chemical weapons days before the war, that WMD
materiel had been shipped to Syria, and that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda. As Slate
media critic Jack Shafer told WNYC Radio's On the Media program, "When
you... look at [her story], you find that it's gas, it's air. There's no way
to judge the value of her information, because it comes from an unnamed source
that won't let her verify any aspect of it. And if you dig into the story...
you'll find out that the only thing that Miller has independently observed is
a man that the military says is the scientist, wearing a baseball cap, pointing
at mounds in the dirt."
39) "The Iraqi people are now free."
So says the current U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, in a recent
New York Times op-ed. He failed to add that disagreeing can get you shot or
arrested under the terms of the Pentagon's latest plan for pacifying Iraq, Operation
Sidewinder (see #36), a military op launched last month to wipe out all remaining
Ba'athists and Saddam partisans--meaning, in practice, anyone who resists the
U.S. occupation too zealously.
40) God told Bush to invade Iraq.
Not long after the September 11 attacks, neoconservative high priest Norman
Podhoretz wrote: "One hears that Bush, who entered the White House without
a clear sense of what he wanted to do there, now feels there was a purpose behind
his election all along; as a born-again Christian, it is said, he believes he
was chosen by God to eradicate the evil of terrorism from the world."
No, he really believes it, or so he would like us to think. The Palestinian
prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that Bush
made the following pronouncement during a recent meeting between the two: "God
told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to
strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem
in the Middle East."
Oddly, it never got much play back home.
This was truly a collaborative effort from start to finish. It began with the
notion of running a week-long marathon of Bush administration lies at my online
Bush Wars column (bushwarsblog.com).
Along the way my e-mail box delivered more research assistance than I've ever
received on any single story. I need to thank Jeff St. Clair and the Counterpunch
website (counterpunch.org), which featured
the Lies marathon in addition to posting valuable reportage and essays every
day; I also received lots of lies entries and documentary links from BW readers
Rob Johnson, Ted Dibble, and Donna Johnson, as well as my colleagues Mark Gisleson,
Elaine Cassel, Sally Ryan, Mike Mosedale, and Paul Demko. Dave Marsh provided
valuable editing suggestions.
I also found loads of valuable information through Cursor and Buzzflash, the
two best news links pages on the internet, and through research projects on
the Bushmen posted at Cooperative Research (cooperativeresearch.org),
Whiskey Bar (billmon.org), and tvnewslies.org.
But the heart of the effort was all the readers of Bush Wars who sent along
ideas and links that advanced the project. Many thanks to Estella Bloomberg,
Vince Bradley, Angela Bradshaw, Gary Burns, Elaine Cole, George Dobosh, Deborah
Eddy, David Erickson, Casey Finne, Douglas Gault, Jean T. Gordon, Doug Henwood,
George Hunsinger, Peter Lee, Eric Martin, Michael McFadden, George McLaughlin,
Eric T. Olson, Doug Payne, Alan W. Peck, Dennis Perrin, Charles Prendergast,
Publius, Michele Quinn, Ernesto Resnik, Ed Rickert, Maritza Silverio, Marshall
Smith, Robert David Steele, Ed Thornhill, Christopher Veal, and Jennifer Vogel.
And my apologies to anyone else whose e-mails I didn't manage to save.