Secrets and Lies: The White House Pretexts for War

by Kathryn Welch ( July 17, 2003, CommonDreams.org)

George W. Bush claimed he'd bring honor and dignity to the White House. But daily we learn more of the half-truths or outright lies Bush and/or his spokespeople have concocted to rationalize the war against Iraq.

Frequent repetitions of their misstatements, even when refuted with the facts, suggest strongly that the deceit is intentional.

No evidence exists that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. As far back as Feb. 2002, Joseph Wilson visited Niger under the auspices of the CIA, and at the behest of VP Cheney, who asked for an investigation into the uranium claim. In Mar. 2002, Wilson reported that no such transaction ever took place. Furthermore, CIA investigators have reported to various media that Cheney made frequent trips to the CIA to shape the "intelligence." In Aug. 2002, he claimed to a VFW Convention, "But now we know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons" (The Guardian, 8/27/02). At this point the intelligence services had already disputed this claim.

Also in 2002, George Tenet, the current scapegoat for the administration's distortions, informed Bush that Iraq posed no imminent threat. In Oct. 2002, Tenet personally intervened to stop Bush from making the uranium claim at that time (AP, 7/13/03). Still, Bush made the charge in his State of the Union speech in Jan. 2003. Similarly, Condoleezza Rice made the uranium claim on Jan. 23, 2003, months after the CIA had told the administration otherwise. Meanwhile, the IAEA also found no evidence to substantiate the nuclear claim. To quote its report, "To date, we have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since its elimination in the 1990s" (AP, 1/27/03).

Regarding Bush's inclusion of the claim in the State of the Union address, Colin Powell said, "There was a sense that the statement wasn't totally outrageous" (CBS News, 7/12/03). Such recklessness from the Secretary of State says it all. By early Mar. 2003, the IAEA revealed conclusively that the Niger documents were forgeries and that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. But on Mar. 17th, Bush insisted that "Iraq continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Also in March, Cheney persisted that Iraq had nuclear weapons, "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons" (Mar. 16, Meet the Press). As recently as Sunday, July 13, 2003, Rice and Rumsfeld, appearing on television talk shows, asserted the uranium story once again. The very next day, after all these untrue assertions, Ari Fleischer then feigned that no one in the administration ever said Iraq actually had nuclear weapons. Have they no shame?

The uranium document forgeries are hardly the only example of administration dissembling. It has asserted that some aluminum tubes were designed for nuclear centrifuges in Iraq when such was not the case, according to the IAEA. It has misled also about an alleged Iraqi terrorist training camp that wasn't even under Iraqi control, but was under the US and British controlled no-fly zone!

It has misled further about a supposed weapons lab in no. Iraq that didn't exist. It has misled about trailers, even after they had been found unrelated to any weapons production. It used Tony Blair's "dossier," despite the fact that it was based on an old, plagiarized, poorly researched graduate student paper! It has misled too about the well-publicized rockets (so-called "chemical warheads"), which were empty (Blix, Report to the UN Security Council, 1/27/03). Subsequent analyses by UNSCOM uncovered no evidence of any chemical or biological agents.

In the aftermath of the war, every time the administration pounced on something "suspicious," the material was later revealed to be something benign. Almost daily we hear from more loyal Americans in the intelligence community protesting the outright manufacturing of intelligence. Greg Thielmann, former Director of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence, asserted recently that, "the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq." The fact is that Iraq never used weapons of mass destruction against American interests, even when attacked by the US. To date, no WMD have been found.

Another fabricated pretext for war was that Iraq has been involved in Al Qaeda activities, including 9/11. But the US intelligence community has repeatedly denied that there's any significant, reliable evidence of cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda. And yet Bush and his spokespersons continue linking Iraq, Al Qaeda and, implicitly, 9/11. As Bush stated in Sept 2002, "The danger is, is that they work together"-an assertion that he exaggerated even further by sa ying that "in the war on terror, you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). Also in Sept 2002, when asked if there was such a linkage, Rumsfeld asserted: "... the answer is yes" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). Then Ari Fleischer claimed, "Clearly, al Qaeda is operating inside Iraq" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). On Jan. 31, 2003, Bush stated, that Powell "will talk [to the UN Security Council] about al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain" (www.whitehouse.gov). And in the same press conference, Bush claimed that "After Sept. 11th, the doctrine of containment [of Iraq] just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned," again falsely suggesting that Saddam caused 9/11. Is it any wonder that nearly half of Americans erroneously believe that Iraq caused, or was involved in, 9/11?

The record shows that this administration's dissembling is pervasive and ongoing. The White House has employed a fictitious case to expand its power, to declare war, and to reign in personal liberties at home. By its machinations, the administration has sacrificed lives, damaged our nation's credibility, increased the risk of world instability and lawlessness, and drained the treasury of nearly 50 billion dollars thus far. This is honor and dignity? Presidents have been impeached for far less.

Kathryn Welch (Ph.D.) is an industrial/organizational psychologist and freelance writer who lives in Virginia. Her areas of expertise include, leadership development and consensus-based decision making in government and private-sector organizations.

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