Bring 'em On!
The Bush administration's top 40 lies about war and terrorism
By Steve Perry
Wednesday 30 July 2003
Author's note: In the interest of relative brevity I've stinted
on citing and quoting sources in some of the items below. You can
find links to news stories that elaborate on each of these items
at my online Bush Wars column, http://www.bushwarsblog.com.
1) The administration was not bent on war with Iraq from 9/11
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
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
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.
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
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 showed."
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
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
7) An International Atomic Energy Agency report indicated that
Iraq could be as little as six months from making nuclear
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
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.
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 friends."
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 calculus.
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.
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 U.S. soil.
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 to happen.
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 day.
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 hearing.
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 11, 2001.
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
8:40 NORAD command center claims first notification of likely
Flight 11 hijacking.
8:42 Flight 175 veers off course and shuts down its
8:43 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 175
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
9:24 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 77
9:37 Flight 77 hits the Pentagon.
0:06 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
(http://www.cooperativeresearch.org), "[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.
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
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
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 possibly be?
16) The Bush administration had a plan for restoring essential
services and rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after the shooting
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 years.
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
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
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,
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 winner.
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
20) The looting of archaeological and historic sites in Baghdad
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 United States."
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
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
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
ere in custody in May 2002, but only 81 were still in custody
in September 2002."
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
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 several.
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
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 the Taliban.
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 south.'"
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,
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 the population.
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 store food."
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 them since.
(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
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
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.