Bush Administration Lie about Iraq
George W. Bush denied on Veteran’s Day that he had manipulated intelligence in order to take the country to war against Iraq. He said that the Democrats in Congress had seen the same evidence he had, and that the Clinton administration had also seen Iraq as a threat.
Stephen Hadley, Bush’s National Security adviser, underlined the same point on Sunday, denying that there had been any manipulation.
Ironically, Hadley himself was at the center of the scandal about the hyping of intelligence on Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program. The CIA keep sending him memos that implausible things were being alleged by Bush in his speeches about Saddam’s nukes. Hadley’s response was to ignore the CIA and try to find some way to keep saying the implausible things, e.g., by sourcing them to British intelligence instead.
By the way, the allegation that some, including Sen. John McCain, keep making that “the whole world” thought that Iraq had WMD is wrong for two reasons. First, most of the world depended on the US for its intelligence on Iraq and did not have a way of making an independent judgment. Second, the French ministry of defense demurred, as did several of the most important and experience arms inspectors, including Scott Ritter and Hans Blix.
‘ France, Germany and Russia have released an unprecedented joint declaration on the Iraq crisis, demanding more weapons inspectors and more technical assistance for them . . . “Nothing today justifies a war,” Mr Chirac told a joint news conference with Mr Putin. “This region really does not need another war.” He said France did not have “undisputed proof” that Iraq still held weapons of mass destruction. ‘
It is not true that most of the Democrats in Congress saw the same intelligence that Bush saw. Democrats in Congress have told me that most of what they knew about Iraq before the war came via briefings from Bush administration and Pentagon officials. They say privately that they now feel that they were consistently lied to.
But let us look at just one area where there was clear manipulation by Bush and his high officials, and where he was not saying the same things that Clinton or the Democrats had been saying.
There are different sorts of lies. One way to lie is to have two pieces of information, and to suppress one and play up the other. Here is an example of this sort of falsehood.
The lie of omission:
The top al-Qaeda leaders so far captured are
Khalid Shaykh Muhammad
According to the 9/11 Commission report, they revealed to interrogators that Usamah Bin Laden had prohibited al-Qaeda operatives from cooperating with the secular Arab nationalist, Saddam Hussein.
This crucial information was withheld from Congress and from the American people by the Bush/Cheney administration in the run-up to the Iraq War.
(Although KSM was captured only shortly before the war, surely the connection to Saddam was the first thing they asked him about. His answer was not shared with us, to say the least.)
The Democrats and Bill Clinton could never have cited this information because it was never made available to them by Bush.
In contrast, the Bush/Cheney administration played up the lies of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi that Saddam’s Iraq was training al-Qaeda operatives, even though the Defense Intelligence Agency and other high-level intelligence operatives dismissed this information as unreliable. It should be noted that no money traces showed al-Qaeda funds coming from Iraq. No captured al-Qaeda fighters had been trained in Iraq. There was no intelligence that in any way corroborated al-Libi’s story. And, it was directly contradicted by two of his superiors.
The information from KSM and Abu Zubaydah circulated widely among intelligence officials.
‘ The report on Zubaydah’s debriefing was circulated among US intelligence officers last year, but his statements were not included in public discussions by Administration officials about the evidence of al-Qaeda ties. “I remember reading the Abu Zubaydah debriefing last year, while the Administration was talking about all of these other reports and thinking that they were only putting out what they wanted,” one official said. ‘
This was a community of intelligence. Those with the clearances saw those confessions. The lower-level analysts were amazed when they saw Bush and Cheney and Rice on television hyping al-Libi’s torture-induced “revelations.” . . . They were only putting out what they wanted . . ..
It is impossible that Bush, Cheney and Rice saw the intel from al-Libi but not from Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Shaikh Muhammad. The only way to explain these comments is that they suppressed the latter in order to emphasize the former. This tactic was deeply dishonest.
So in September of 2002, as “the new product” was being “rolled out” in the words of Bush adviser Andy Card, this is what we heard:
Thursday, September 26, 2002 Posted: 1:28 PM EDT (1728 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush’s national security adviser Wednesday said Saddam Hussein has sheltered al Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad and helped train some in chemical weapons development — information she said has been gleaned from captives in the ongoing war on terrorism.
The comments by Condoleezza Rice were the strongest and most specific to date on the White House’s accusations linking al Qaeda and Iraq.
The accusations followed those made by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who earlier in the day said the United States has evidence linking Iraq and al Qaeda, but they did not elaborate.”
This lie by omission was repeated over and over again by Bush and his cronies:
“Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.”
- Bush in January 2003 State of the Union address.
“Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.”
- Bush in February 2003.
If he had said, “Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah, the top al-Qaeda operatives in custody, deny that there was any operational cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But Ibn al-Shaikh al-Libi asserts that Saddam Hussein is training al-Qaeda in the use of chemical weapons. I asked our Defense Intelligence Agency about this, and they do not find al-Libi’s allegations credible. I as president have tough choices to make. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to believe al-Libi on this.”
Then he would not have been lying to the public. But the way he did it was a lie. Some are saying that the evaluation of al-Libi by the DIA did not reach Bush and Cheney. That is not the DIA’s fault. That is incompetence on Bush’s and Cheney’s parts. Why spend $44 billion a year on intelligence and not seek it?
The United States military captured much of the archive of the Baath ministry of the interior, which it turned over to Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. That is where any document would be that mentioned al-Qaeda. It does not exist, or we would have seen it by now.
It was all a tissue of lies.