The Guardian July 9, 2003


Ten appalling lies we were told about Iraq

"The Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the 
world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons."  
George Bush, October 7, 2002.

by Christopher Scheer

There is a small sombre box that appears in the New York Times every 
day. Titled simply "Killed in Iraq", it lists the names and military 
affiliations of those who most recently died on tour of duty. One 
Wednesday's edition listed just one name: Orenthal J Smith, age 21, of 
Allendale, South Carolina.

The young, late OJ Smith was almost certainly named after the legendary 
running back, Orenthal J Simpson, before that dashing American hero was 
charged for a double-murder. Now his namesake has died in far-off 
Mesopotamia in a noble mission to, as our President put it on March 19, 
"disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave 
danger".

Today, more than three months after Bush's stirring declaration of war and 
nearly two months since he declared victory, no chemical, biological or 
nuclear weapons have been found, nor any documentation of their existence, 
nor any sign they were deployed in the field.

The mainstream press, after an astonishing two years of cowardice, is 
belatedly drawing attention to the unconscionable level of administrative 
deception. They seem surprised to find that when it comes to Iraq, the Bush 
administration isn't prone to the occasional lie of expediency but, in 
fact, almost never told the truth.

What follows are just the most outrageous and significant of the dozens of 
outright lies uttered by Bush and his top officials over the past year in 
what amounts to a systematic campaign to scare the bejeezus out of 
everybody:

LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its 
nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength 
aluminium tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are 
used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."  President Bush, Oct. 7, 
2002, in Cincinnati.

FACT: This story, leaked to and breathlessly reported by Judith 
Miller in the New York Times, has turned out to be complete baloney. 
Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the tubes 
could not be used for enriching uranium. One intelligence analyst, who was 
part of the tubes investigation, angrily told The New Republic: "You had 
senior American officials like Condoleeza Rice saying the only use of this 
aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that on television. And 
that's just a lie."

LIE #2: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein 
recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."  
President Bush, Jan.28, 2003, in the State of the Union address.

FACT: This whopper was based on a document that the White House 
already knew to be a forgery thanks to the CIA. Sold to Italian 
intelligence by some hustler, the document carried the signature of an 
official who had been out of office for 10 years and referenced a 
constitution that was no longer in effect.

The ex-ambassador who the CIA sent to check out the story is angry: "They 
knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie", he told the New Republic, 
anonymously. "They [the White House] were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes 
and added this to make their case more strongly."

LIE #3: "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear 
weapons."  Vice President Cheney, March 16, 2003 on Meet the Press.

FACT: There was and is absolutely zero basis for this statement. CIA 
reports up through 2002 showed no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons 
program.

LIE #4: "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level 
contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida going back a decade."  CIA Director 
George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002 and echoed in 
that evening's speech by President Bush.

FACT: Intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between 
Saddam and al-Qaida in the early '90s, but found no proof of a continuing 
relationship. In other words, by tweaking language, Tenet and Bush spun the 
intelligence 180 degrees to say exactly the opposite of what it suggested.

LIE #5: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in 
bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases ... Alliance with terrorists could 
allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints." 
 President Bush, Oct. 7.

FACT: No evidence of this has ever been leaked or produced. Colin 
Powell told the UN this alleged training took place in a camp in northern 
Iraq. To his great embarrassment, the area he indicated was later revealed 
to be outside Iraq's control and patrolled by Allied war planes.

LIE #6: "We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has 
a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used 
to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are 
concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial 
vehicles] for missions targeting the United States."  President Bush, 
Oct. 2002.

FACT: Said drones can't fly more than 600 kilometres, and Iraq is 
more than 12,000 kilometres from the US coastline. Furthermore, Iraq's 
drone-building program wasn't much more advanced than your average model 
plane enthusiast. And isn't a "manned aerial vehicle" just a scary way to 
say "plane"?

LIE #7: "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have 
chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that 
they're weaponised and that, in one case at least, the command and control 
arrangements have been established."  President Bush, Feb. 8, 2003, in a 
national radio address.

FACT: Despite a massive nationwide search by US and British forces, 
there are no signs, traces or examples of chemical weapons being deployed 
in the field, or anywhere else during the war.

LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a 
stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is 
enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets."  Secretary of State Colin 
Powell, Feb. 5, 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council.

FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this 
massive stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet our 
own intelligence reports show that these stocks  if they existed  were 
well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder.

LIE #9: "We know where [Iraq's WMD] are. They're in the area around 
Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat."  Secretary 
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003, in statements to the press.

FACT: Needless to say, no such weapons were found, not to the east, 
west, south or north, somewhat or otherwise.

LIE #10: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN 
prohibited."  President Bush in remarks in Poland, published 
internationally June 1, 2003.

FACT: This was reference to the discovery of two modified truck 
trailers that the CIA claimed were potential mobile biological weapons 
laboratories. But British and American experts  including the State 
Department's intelligence wing in a report released last month  have 
since declared this to be untrue.

According to the British, and much to Prime Minister Tony Blair's 
embarrassment, the trailers are actually exactly what Iraq said they were; 
facilities to fill weather balloons, sold to them by the British 
themselves.

Rhetoric, but no proof

So, months after the war, we are once again where we started  with plenty 
of rhetoric and absolutely no proof of this "grave danger" for which OJ 
Smith died.

The Bush administration is now scrambling to place the blame for its lies 
on faulty intelligence, when in fact the intelligence was fine; it was 
their abuse of it that was "faulty".

Rather than apologise for leading us to a pre-emptive war based on 
impossibly faulty or shamelessly distorted "intelligence" or offering his 
resignation, our sly madman in the White House is starting to sound more 
like that other OJ.

Like the man who cheerfully played golf while promising to pursue "the real 
killers", Bush is now vowing to search for "the true extent of Saddam 
Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes".

On the terrible day of the 9/11 attacks, five hours after a hijacked plane 
slammed into the Pentagon, retired General Wesley Clark received a strange 
call from someone (he didn't name names) representing the White House 
position: "I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to 
say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be 
connected to Saddam Hussein'", Clark told Meet the Press anchor Tim 
Russert. "I said, 'But  I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' 
And I never got any evidence."

And neither did we.

* * *
Christopher Scheer is the Managing Editor of http://AlterNet.org.

Back to index page