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Bring 'em On!
The Bush administration's 0atop 40 lies about war and terrorism
By Steve 0aPerry
Wednesday 30 July 2003
Author's note: In the interest of relative brevity I've stinted 0aon citing and quoting sources in some of the items below. You can find links to 0anews stories that elaborate on each of these items at my online Bush Wars 0acolumn, www.bushwarsblog.com.
1) The administration was not bent on war with Iraq from 9/11 0aonward.
Throughout the year leading up to war, the White House publicly 0amaintained that the U.S. took weapons inspections seriously, that diplomacy 0awould get its chance, that Saddam had the opportunity to prevent a U.S. 0ainvasion. The most pungent and concise evidence to the contrary comes from the 0apresident's own mouth. According to Time's March 31 road-to-war story, Bush 0apopped in on national security adviser Condi Rice one day in March 2002, 0ainterrupting a meeting on UN sanctions against Iraq. Getting a whiff of the 0asubject matter, W peremptorily waved his hand and told her, "Fuck Saddam. We're 0ataking him out." Clare Short, Tony Blair's former secretary for international 0adevelopment, recently lent further credence to the anecdote. She told the London 0aGuardian that Bush and Blair made a secret pact a few months afterward, in the 0asummer of 2002, to invade Iraq in either February or March of this year.
Last fall CBS News obtained meeting notes taken by a Rumsfeld 0aaide at 2:40 on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The notes indicate that 0aRumsfeld wanted the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam 0aHussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Usama bin Laden].... Go massive. Sweep it 0aall up. Things related and not."
Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, the Bushmen's leading 0aintellectual light, has long been rabid on the subject of Iraq. He reportedly 0atold Vanity Fair writer Sam Tanenhaus off the record that he believes Saddam was 0aconnected not only to bin Laden and 9/11, but the 1995 Oklahoma City 0abombing.
The Bush administration's foreign policy plan was not based on 0aSeptember 11, or terrorism; those events only brought to the forefront a radical 0aplan for U.S. control of the post-Cold War world that had been taking shape 0asince the closing days of the first Bush presidency. Back then a small claque of 0aplanners, led by Wolfowitz, generated a draft document known as Defense Planning 0aGuidance, which envisioned a U.S. that took advantage of its lone-superpower 0astatus to consolidate American control of the world both militarily and 0aeconomically, to the point where no other nation could ever reasonably hope to 0achallenge the U.S. Toward that end it envisioned what we now call "preemptive" 0awars waged to reset the
After a copy of DPG was leaked to the New York Times, subsequent 0adrafts were rendered a little less frank, but the basic idea never changed. In 0a1997 Wolfowitz and his true believers--Richard Perle, William Kristol, Dick 0aCheney, Donald Rumsfeld--formed an organization called Project for the New 0aAmerican Century to carry their cause forward. And though they all flocked 0aaround the Bush administration from the start, W never really embraced their 0aplan until the events of September 11 left him casting around for a foreign 0apolicy plan.
2) The invasion of Iraq was based on a reasonable belief that 0aIraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a threat to the U.S., a 0abelief supported by available intelligence evidence.
Paul Wolfowitz admitted to Vanity Fair that weapons of mass 0adestruction were not really the main reason for invading Iraq: "The decision to 0ahighlight weapons of mass destruction as the main justification for going to war 0ain Iraq was taken for bureaucratic reasons.... [T]here were many other important 0afactors as well." Right. But they did not come under the heading of 0aself-defense.
We now know how the Bushmen gathered their prewar intelligence: 0aThey set out to patch together their case for invading Iraq and ignored 0aeverything that contradicted it. In the end, this required that Rumsfeld, 0aWolfowitz, et al. set aside the findings of analysts from the CIA and the 0aDefense Intelligence Agency (the Pentagon's own spy bureau) and stake their 0aclaim largely on the basis of isolated, anecdotal testimony from handpicked 0aIraqi defectors. (See #5, Ahmed Chalabi.) But the administration did not just 0alisten to the defectors; it promoted their claims in the press as a means of 0aenlisting public opinion. The only reason so many Americans thought there was a 0aconnection between Saddam and al Qaeda in the first place was that the Bushmen 0atrotted out Iraqi defectors making these sorts of claims to every major media 0aoutlet that would listen.
Here is the verdict of Gregory Thielman, the recently retired 0ahead of the State Department's intelligence office: "I believe the Bush 0aadministration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the 0amilitary threat posed by Iraq. This administration has had a 0afaith-based
intelligence attitude--we know the answers, give us the 0aintelligence to support those answers." Elsewhere he has been quoted as saying, "The principal reasons that Americans did not understand the nature of the Iraqi 0athreat in my view was the failure of senior administration officials to speak 0ahonestly about what the intelligence showed."
3) Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger.
Lies and distortions tend to beget more lies and distortions, and 0ahere is W's most notorious case in point: Once the administration decided to 0aissue a damage-controlling (they hoped) mea culpa in the matter of African 0auranium, they were obliged to couch it in another, more perilous lie: that the 0aadministration, and quite likely Bush himself, thought the uranium claim was 0atrue when he made it. But former acting ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson wrote 0aan op-ed in the New York Times on July 6 that exploded the claim. Wilson, who 0atraveled to Niger in 2002 to investigate the uranium claims at the behest of the 0aCIA and Dick Cheney's office and found them to be groundless, describes what 0afollowed this way: "Although I did not file a written report, there should be at 0aleast four documents in U.S. government archives confirming my mission. The 0adocuments should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a 0aseparate report written by the embassy staff, a CIA report summing up my trip, 0aand a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this 0amay have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I 0ahave spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating 0aprocedure."
4) The aluminum tubes were proof of a nuclear program.
The very next sentence of Bush's State of the Union address was 0ajust as egregious a lie as the uranium claim, though a bit cagier in 0aits
formulation. "Our intelligence sources tell us that [Saddam] has 0aattempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons 0aproduction." This is altogether false in its implication (that this is the 0alikeliest use for these materials) and may be untrue in its literal sense as 0awell. As the London Independent summed it up recently, "The U.S. persistently 0aalleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength aluminum tubes whose only use 0acould be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. 0aEqually persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were 0abeing used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told 0athe UN Security Council in January that the tubes were not even suitable for 0acentrifuges." [emphasis added]
5) Iraq's WMDs were sent to Syria for hiding.
Or Iran, or.... "They shipped them out!" was a rallying cry for 0athe administration in the first few nervous weeks of finding no WMDs, but not a 0abit of supporting evidence has emerged.
6) The CIA was primarily responsible for any prewar intelligence 0aerrors or distortions regarding Iraq.
Don't be misled by the news that CIA director George Tenet has 0ataken the fall for Bush's falsehoods in the State of the Uranium address. As the 0ajournalist Robert Dreyfuss wrote shortly before the war, "Even as it prepares 0afor war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war 0aagainst the Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon is bringing relentless 0apressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive 0aof war with Iraq. ... Morale inside the U.S. national-security apparatus is said 0ato be low, with career staffers feeling intimidated and pressured to justify the 0apush for war."
In short, Tenet fell on his sword when he vetted Bush's State of 0athe Union yarns. And now he has had to get up and fall on it again.
7) An International Atomic Energy Agency report indicated that 0aIraq could be as little as six months from making nuclear weapons.
Alas: The claim had to be retracted when the IAEA pointed out 0athat no such report existed.
8) Saddam was involved with bin Laden and al Qaeda in the 0aplotting of 9/11.
One of the most audacious and well-traveled of the Bushmen's 0afibs, this one hangs by two of the slenderest evidentiary threads imaginable: 0afirst, anecdotal testimony by isolated, handpicked Iraqi defectors that there 0awas an al Qaeda training camp in Iraq, a claim CIA analysts did 0anot
corroborate and that postwar U.S. military inspectors conceded did not 0aexist; and second, old intelligence accounts of a 1991 meeting in Baghdad 0abetween a bin Laden emissary and officers from Saddam's intelligence service, 0awhich did not lead to any subsequent contact that U.S. or UK spies have ever 0amanaged to turn up. According to former State Department intelligence chief 0aGregory Thielman, the consensus of U.S. intelligence agencies well in advance of 0athe war was that "there was no significant pattern of cooperation between Iraq 0aand 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 0aanyone who has paid attention to the state of Arab popular sentiment already 0arealizes. Representative government in Iraq would mean the rapid expulsion of 0aU.S. interests. Rather, the U.S. wants westernized, secular leadership regimes 0athat will stay in pocket and work to neutralize the politically ambitious 0aanti-Western religious sects popping up everywhere. If a little brutality and 0agraft are required to do the job, it has never troubled the U.S. in the past. 0aIronically, these standards describe someone more or less like Saddam Hussein. 0aJudging from the state of civil affairs in Iraq now, the Bush administration 0awill no doubt be looking for a strongman again, if and when they are finally 0acompelled to install anyone at all.
10) Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress are a homegrown 0aIraqi political force, not a U.S.-sponsored front.
Chalabi is a more important bit player in the Iraq war than most 0apeople realize, and not because he was the U.S.'s failed choice to lead a 0apost-Saddam government. It was Chalabi and his INC that funneled compliant 0adefectors to the Bush administration, where they attested to everything the 0aBushmen wanted to believe about Saddam and Iraq (meaning, mainly, al Qaeda 0aconnections and WMD programs). The administration proceeded to take their 0adubious word over that of the combined intelligence of the CIA and DIA, which 0aindicated that Saddam was not in the business of sponsoring foreign terrorism 0aand posed no imminent threat to anyone.
Naturally Chalabi is despised nowadays round the halls of 0aLangley, but it wasn't always so. The CIA built the Iraqi National Congress and 0ainstalled Chalabi at the helm back in the days following Gulf War I, when the 0athought was to topple Saddam by whipping up and sponsoring an internal 0aopposition. It didn't work; from the start Iraqis have disliked and distrusted 0aChalabi. Moreover, his erratic and duplicitous ways have alienated practically 0aeveryone in the U.S. foreign policy establishment as well--except for Rumsfeld's 0aDepartment 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 0aDoctrine, and may have to before the Ashcroft Justice Department is finished: 0aThe global war on terror is about confronting terrorist groups and the nations 0athat harbor them. The United States does not make deals with terrorists or 0anations where they find safe lodging.
Leave aside the blind eye that the U.S. has always cast toward 0aIsrael's actions in the territories. How are the Bushmen doing elsewhere 0avis- -vis their announced principles? We can start with their fabrications and 0amanipulations of Iraqi WMD evidence--which, in the eyes of weapons inspectors, 0athe UN Security Council, American intelligence analysts, and the world at large, 0adid not pose any imminent threat.
The events of recent months have underscored a couple more 0agaping
violations of W's cardinal anti-terror rules. In April the Pentagon 0amade a cooperation pact with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iranian 0aterrorist group based in Iraq. Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, American 0aintelligence blamed it for the death of several U.S. nationals in Iran.
Most glaring of all is the Bush administration's remarkable 0atreatment of Saudi Arabia. Consider: Eleven of the nineteen September 11 0ahijackers were Saudis. The ruling House of Saud has longstanding and well-known 0aties to al Qaeda and other terrorist outfits, which it funds (read protection 0amoney) to keep them from making mischief at home. The May issue of Atlantic 0aMonthly had a nice piece on the House of Saud that recounts these 0aconnections.
Yet the Bush government has never said boo regarding the Saudis 0aand international terrorism. In fact, when terror bombers struck Riyadh in May, 0ahitting compounds that housed American workers as well, Colin Powell went out of 0ahis way to avoid tarring the House of Saud: "Terrorism strikes everywhere and 0aeveryone. It is a threat to the civilized world. We will commit ourselves again 0ato redouble our efforts to work closely with our Saudi friends and friends all 0aaround the world to go after al Qaeda." Later it was alleged that the Riyadh 0abombers purchased some of their ordnance from the Saudi National Guard, but 0aneither Powell nor anyone else saw fit to revise their statements about "our 0aSaudi friends."
Why do the Bushmen give a pass to the Saudi terror hotbed? 0aBecause 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 0amost in Bush's foreign policy calculus.
While the bomb craters in Riyadh were still smoking, W held a 0ameeting with Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Speaking publicly 0aafterward, he outlined a deal for U.S. military aid to the Philippines in 0aexchange for greater "cooperation" in getting American hands round the throats 0aof Filipino terrorists. He mentioned in particular the U.S.'s longtime nemesis 0aAbu Sayyaf--and he also singled out the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a small 0afaction based on Mindanao, the southernmost big island in the Philippine 0achain.
Of course it's by purest coincidence that Mindanao is the 0alocation of Asia's richest oil reserves.
12) The U.S. has made progress against world terrorist elements, 0ain particular by crippling al Qaeda.
A resurgent al Qaeda has been making international news since 0aaround the time of the Saudi Arabia bombings in May. The best coverage by far is 0athat of Asia Times correspondent Syed Saleem Shahzad. According to Shahzad's 0adetailed accounts, al Qaeda has reorganized itself along leaner, more diffuse 0alines, effectively dissolving itself into a coalition of localized units that 0amean to strike frequently, on a small scale, and in multiple locales around the 0aworld. Since claiming responsibility for the May Riyadh bombings, alleged al 0aQaeda communiqu s have also claimed credit for some of the strikes at U.S. 0atroops in Iraq.
13) The Bush administration has made Americans safer from terror 0aon U.S. soil.
Like the Pentagon "plan" for occupying postwar Iraq, the 0aDepartment of Homeland Security is mainly a Bush administration PR dirigible 0auntethered to anything of substance. It's a scandal waiting to happen, and the 0aonly good news for W is that it's near the back of a fairly long line of 0ascandals waiting to happen.
On May 26 the trade magazine Federal Computer Week published a 0areport on DHS's first 100 days. At that point the nerve center of Bush's 0adomestic war on terror had only recently gotten e-mail service. As for the 0alarger matter of creating a functioning organizational grid and, more important, 0aa software architecture plan for integrating the enormous mass of data that DHS 0ais supposed to process--nada. In the nearly two years since the administration 0aannounced its intention to create a cabinet-level homeland security office, 0anothing meaningful has been accomplished. And there are no funds to implement a 0anetwork plan if they had one. According to the magazine, "Robert David Steele, 0aan author and former intelligence officer, points out that there are at least 30 0aseparate intelligence systems [theoretically feeding into DHS] and no money to 0aconnect them to one another or make them interoperable. 'There is nothing in the 0apresident's homeland security program that makes America safer,' he said."
14) The Bush administration has nothing to hide concerning the 0aevents of September 11, 2001, or the intelligence evidence collected prior to 0athat day.
First Dick Cheney personally intervened to scuttle a broad 0acongressional investigation of the day's events and their origins. And for the 0apast several months the administration has fought a quiet rear-guard action 0aculminating in last week's delayed release of Congress's more modest 9/11 0areport. The White House even went so far as to classify after the fact materials 0athat had already been presented in public hearing.
What were they trying to keep under wraps? The Saudi connection, 0amostly, and though 27 pages of the details have been excised from the public 0areport, there is still plenty of evidence lurking in its extensively massaged 0atext. (When you see the phrase "foreign nation" substituted in brackets, it's 0anearly always Saudi Arabia.) The report documents repeated signs that there was 0aa major attack in the works with extensive help from Saudi nationals and 0aapparently also at least one member of the government. It also suggests that is 0aone reason intel operatives didn't chase the story harder: Saudi Arabia was by 0apolicy fiat a "friendly" nation and therefore no threat. The report does not 0aexplore the administration's response to the intelligence briefings it got; its 0apurview is strictly the performance of intelligence agencies. All other 0aquestions now fall to the independent 9/11 commission, whose work is presently 0abeing slowed by the White House's foot-dragging in turning over evidence.
15) U.S. air defenses functioned according to protocols on 0aSeptember 11, 2001.
Old questions abound here. The central mystery, of how U.S. air 0adefenses could have responded so poorly on that day, is fairly easy to grasp. A 0acursory look at that morning's timeline of events is enough. In very short 0astrokes:
8:13 Flight 11 disobeys air traffic instructions and turns off 0aits transponder.
8:40 NORAD command center claims first notification of likely 0aFlight 11 hijacking.
8:42 Flight 175 veers off course and shuts down its 0atransponder.
8:43 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 175 0ahijacking.
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 0ahijacking.
9:24 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 77 0ahijacking.
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 0areduced to paltry levels since the end of the Cold War. According to a report by 0aPaul Thompson published at the endlessly informative Center for
Cooperative 0aResearch website (www.cooperativeresearch.org), "[O]nly two air force bases in 0athe Northeast region... were formally part of NORAD's defensive system. One was 0aOtis Air National Guard Base, on Massachusetts's Cape Cod peninsula and about 0a188 miles east of New York City. The other was Langley Air Force Base near 0aNorfolk, Virginia, and about 129 miles south of Washington. During the Cold War, 0athe U.S. had literally thousands of fighters on alert. But as the Cold War wound 0adown, this number was reduced until it reached only 14 fighters in the 0acontinental U.S. by 9/11."
But even an underpowered air defense system on slow-response 0astatus (15 minutes, officially, on 9/11) does not explain the magnitude of 0aNORAD's apparent failures that day. Start with the discrepancy in the times at 0awhich NORAD commanders claim to have learned of the various hijackings. By 8:43 0aa.m., NORAD had been notified of two probable hijackings in the previous five 0aminutes. If there was such a thing as a system-wide air defense crisis plan, it 0ashould have kicked in at that moment. Three minutes later, at 8:46, Flight 11 0acrashed into the first WTC tower. By then alerts should have been going out to 0aall regional air traffic centers of apparent coordinated hijackings in progress. 0aYet when Flight 77, which eventually crashed into the Pentagon, was hijacked 0athree minutes later, at 8:46, NORAD claims not to have learned of it until 9:24, 0a38 minutes after the fact and just 13 minutes before it crashed into the 0aPentagon.
The professed lag in reacting to the hijacking of Flight 93 is 0ajust as striking. NORAD acknowledged learning of the hijacking at 9:16, yet the 0aPentagon's position is that it had not yet intercepted the plane when it crashed 0ain a Pennsylvania field just minutes away from Washington, D.C. at 10:06, a full 0a50 minutes later.
In fact, there are a couple of other circumstantial details of 0athe crash, discussed mostly in Pennsylvania newspapers and barely noted in 0anational wire stories, that suggest Flight 93 may have been shot down after all. 0aFirst, officials never disputed reports that there was a secondary debris field 0asix miles from the main crash site, and a few press accounts said that it 0aincluded one of the plane's engines. A secondary debris field points to an 0aexplosion on board, from one of two probable causes--a terrorist bomb carried on 0aboard or an Air Force missile. And no
investigation has ever intimated that 0aany of the four terror crews were toting explosives. They kept to simple tools 0alike the box cutters, for ease in passing security. Second, a handful of 0aeyewitnesses in the rural area around the crash site did report seeing 0alow-flying U.S. military jets around the time of the crash.
Which only raises another question. Shooting down Flight 93 would 0ahave been incontestably the right thing to do under the circumstances. More than 0athat, it would have constituted the only evidence of anything NORAD and the 0aPentagon had done right that whole morning. So why deny it? Conversely, if 0afighter jets really were not on the scene when 93 crashed, why weren't they? How 0acould that possibly be?
16) The Bush administration had a plan for restoring essential 0aservices and rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after the shooting war ended.
The question of what the U.S. would do to rebuild Iraq was raised 0abefore the shooting started. I remember reading a press briefing in which a 0aPentagon official boasted that at the time, the American reconstruction team had 0aalready spent three weeks planning the postwar world! The Pentagon's first word 0awas that the essentials of rebuilding the country would take about $10 billion 0aand three months; this stood in fairly stark contrast to UN estimates that an 0aaggressive rebuilding program could cost up to $100 billion a year for a minimum 0aof three years.
After the shooting stopped it was evident the U.S. had no plan 0afor keeping order in the streets, much less commencing to rebuild. (They are 0aupgrading certain oil facilities, but that's another matter.) There are two ways 0ato read this. The popular version is that it proves what bumblers Bush and his 0acrew really are. And it's certainly true that where the details of their grand 0adesigns are concerned, the administration tends to have postures rather than 0aplans. But this ignores the strategic advantages the U.S. stands to reap by 0aleaving Iraqi domestic affairs in a chronic state of (managed, they hope) chaos. 0aMost important, it provides an excuse for the continued presence of a large U.S. 0aforce, which ensures that America will call the shots in putting Iraqi oil back 0aon the world market and seeing to it that the Iraqis don't fall in with the 0awrong sort of oil company partners. A long military occupation is also a 0apractical means of accomplishing something the U.S. cannot do officially, which 0ais to maintain air bases in Iraq indefinitely. (This became necessary after the 0aU.S. agreed to vacate its bases in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to try to 0adefuse anti-U.S. political tensions there.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to pay for whatever rebuilding it gets 0aaround to doing with the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales, an enormous cash box the 0aU.S. will oversee for the good of the Iraqi people.
In other words, "no plan" may have been the plan the Bushmen were 0aintent on pursuing all along.
17) The U.S. has made a good-faith effort at peacekeeping in Iraq 0aduring the postwar period.
"Some [looters] shot big grins at American soldiers and Marines 0aor put down their prizes to offer a thumbs-up or a quick finger across the 0athroat 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 0athree months since the heavy artillery fell silent, the postwar performance of 0aU.S. forces has been more remarkable for the things they have not
done--their 0afailure to intervene in civil chaos or to begin reestablishing basic civil 0aprocedures. It isn't the soldiers' fault. Traditionally an occupation force is 0aheaded up by military police units schooled to interact with the natives and 0aoversee the restoration of goods and services. But Rumsfeld has repeatedly 0adeclined advice to rotate out the combat troops sooner rather than later and 0areplace some of them with an MP force. Lately this has been a source of 0aescalating criticism within military ranks.
18) Despite vocal international opposition, the U.S. was backed 0aby most of the world, as evidenced by the 40-plus-member Coalition of the 0aWilling.
When the whole world opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the 0aoutcry was so loud that it briefly pierced the slumber of the American public, 0awhich poured out its angst in poll numbers that bespoke little taste for a war 0awithout the UN's blessing. So it became necessary to assure the folks at home 0athat the whole world was in fact for the invasion. Thus was born the Coalition 0aof the Willing, consisting of the U.S. and UK, with Australia caddying--and 0a40-some additional co-champions of U.S.-style democracy in the Middle East, 0awhose ranks included such titans of diplomacy and pillars of representative 0agovernment as Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Eritrea, and Micronesia. If the 0aAmerican public noticed the ruse, all was nonetheless forgotten when Baghdad 0afell. 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, 0aand missiles killed more civilians in the recent war in Iraq than in any 0aconflict since Vietnam, according to preliminary assessments carried out by the 0aUN, international aid agencies, and independent study groups. Despite U.S. 0aboasts this was the fastest, most clinical campaign in military history, a first 0asnapshot of 'collateral damage' indicates that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi 0anon-combatants died in the course of the hi-tech blitzkrieg."
20) The looting of archaeological and historic sites in Baghdad 0awas unanticipated.
General Jay Garner himself, then the head man for postwar Iraq, 0atold the Washington Times that he had put the Iraqi National Museum second on a 0alist of sites requiring protection after the fall of the Saddam
government, 0aand he had no idea why the recommendation was ignored. It's also a matter of 0arecord that the administration had met in January with a group of U.S. scholars 0aconcerned with the preservation of Iraq's fabulous Sumerian antiquities. So the 0awar planners were aware of the riches at stake. According to Scotland's Sunday 0aHerald, the Pentagon took at least one other meeting as well: "[A] coalition of 0aantiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for 0aCultural Policy (ACCP), met with U.S. Defense and State department officials 0aprior to the start of military action to offer its assistance.... The group is 0aknown to consist of a number of influential dealers who favor a relaxation of 0aIraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities.... [Archaeological Institute of America] president Patty Gerstenblith said: 'The 0aACCP's agenda is to encourage the collecting of antiquities through weakening 0athe laws of archaeologically rich nations and eliminate national ownership of 0aantiquities 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 0aWashington Post story, so I'll quote him: "'Iraq could decide on any given day 0ato provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual 0aterrorists,' President Bush said in Cincinnati on October 7.... But declassified 0aportions of a still-secret National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Friday 0aby the White House show that at the time of the president's speech the U.S. 0aintelligence community judged that possibility to be unlikely. In fact, the NIE, 0awhich began circulating October 2, shows the intelligence services were much 0amore worried that Hussein might give weapons to al Qaeda terrorists if he were 0afacing death or capture and his government was collapsing after a military 0aattack by the United States."
22) Saddam was capable of launching a chemical or biological 0aattack in 45 minutes.
Again the WashPost wraps it up nicely: "The 45-minute claim is at 0athe center of a scandal in Britain that led to the apparent suicide on Friday of 0aa British weapons scientist who had questioned the government's use of the 0aallegation. The scientist, David Kelly, was being investigated by the British 0aparliament as the suspected source of a BBC report that the 45-minute claim was 0aadded to Britain's public 'dossier' on Iraq in September at the insistence of an 0aaide to Prime Minister Tony Blair--and against the wishes of British 0aintelligence, which said the charge was from a single source and was considered 0aunreliable."
23) The Bush administration is seeking to create a viable 0aPalestinian state.
The interests of the U.S. toward the Palestinians have not 0achanged--not yet, at least. Israel's "security needs" are still the U.S.'s 0asturdiest pretext for its military role in policing the Middle East and arming 0aits Israeli proxies. But the U.S.'s immediate needs have tilted since the 0ainvasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now the Bushmen need a fig leaf--to confuse, 0aif not exactly cover, their designs, and to give shaky pro-U.S. governments in 0athe region some scrap to hold out to their own restive peoples. Bush's roadmap 0ahas scared the hell out of the Israeli right, but they have little reason to 0aworry. Press reports in the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly telegraphed the 0aassurance that Bush won't try to push Ariel Sharon any further than he's 0acomfortable going.
24) People detained by the U.S. after 9/11 were legitimate terror 0asuspects.
Quite the contrary, as disclosed officially in last month's 0acritical report on U.S. detainees from the Justice Department's own Office of 0aInspector General. A summary analysis of post-9/11 detentions posted at the 0aUC-Davis website states, "None of the 1,200 foreigners arrested and detained in 0asecret after September 11 was charged with an act of
terrorism. Instead, 0aafter periods of detention that ranged from weeks to months, most were deported 0afor violating immigration laws. The government said that 752 of 1,200 foreigners 0aarrested after September 11 were in custody in May 2002, but only 81 were still 0ain custody in September 2002."
25) The U.S. is obeying the Geneva conventions in its treatment 0aof terror-related suspects, prisoners, and detainees.
The entire mumbo-jumbo about "unlawful combatants" was conceived 0ato skirt the Geneva conventions on treatment of prisoners by making them out to 0abe something other than POWs. Here is the actual wording of Donald Rumsfeld's 0apledge, 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 0athat is reasonably consistent with the Geneva conventions to the extent they are 0aappropriate." Meanwhile the
administration has treated its prisoners--many of 0awhom, as we are now seeing confirmed in legal hearings, have no plausible 0aconnection to terrorist enterprises--in a manner that blatantly violates several 0akey Geneva provisions regarding humane treatment and housing.
26) Shots rang out from the Palestine hotel, directed at U.S. 0asoldiers, just before a U.S. tank fired on the hotel, killing two 0ajournalists.
Eyewitnesses to the April 8 attack uniformly denied any gunfire 0afrom the hotel. And just two hours prior to firing on the hotel, U.S. forces had 0abombed the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera, killing a Jordanian reporter. Taken 0atogether, and considering the timing, they were deemed a warning to unembedded 0ajournalists covering the fall of Baghdad around them. The day's events seem to 0ahave been an extreme instance of a more surreptitious pattern of hostility 0ademonstrated by U.S. and UK forces toward foreign journalists and those 0anon-attached Western reporters who moved around the country at will. (One of 0athem, Terry Lloyd of Britain's ITN, was shot to death by UK troops at a 0acheckpoint in late March under circumstances the British government has refused 0ato disclose.)
Some days after firing on the Palestine Hotel, the U.S. sent in a 0acommando unit to raid select floors of the hotel that were known to be occupied 0aby journalists, and the news gatherers were held on the floor at gunpoint while 0atheir rooms were searched. A Centcom spokesman later explained cryptically that 0aintelligence reports suggested there were people "not friendly to the U.S." 0astaying at the hotel. Allied forces also bombed the headquarters of Abu Dhabi 0aTV, injuring several.
27) U.S. troops "rescued" Private Jessica Lynch from an Iraqi 0ahospital.
If I had wanted to run up the tally of administration lies, the 0aLynch episode alone could be parsed into several more. Officials claimed that 0aLynch and her comrades were taken after a firefight in which Lynch battled back 0abravely. Later they announced with great fanfare that U.S. Special Forces had 0arescued Lynch from her captors. They reported that she had been shot and 0astabbed. Later yet, they reported that the recuperating Lynch had no memory of 0athe events.
Bit by bit it all proved false. Lynch's injuries occurred when 0athe vehicle she was riding in crashed. She did not fire on anybody and she was 0anot shot or stabbed. The Iraqi soldiers who had been holding her had abandoned 0athe hospital where she was staying the night before U.S. troops came to get 0aher--a development her "rescuers" were aware of. In fact her doctor had tried to 0areturn her to the Americans the previous evening after the Iraqi soldiers left. 0aBut he was forced to turn back when U.S. troops fired on the approaching 0aambulance. As for Lynch's amnesia, her family has told reporters her memory is 0aperfectly fine.
28) The populace of Baghdad and of Iraq generally turned out en 0amasse to greet U.S. troops as liberators.
There were indeed scattered expressions of thanks when U.S. 0adivisions rolled in, but they were neither as extensive nor as enthusiastic as 0aBush image-makers pretended. Within a day or two of the Saddam government's 0afall, the scene in the Baghdad streets turned to wholesale ransacking and 0avandalism. Within the week, large-scale protests of the U.S. occupation had 0aalready begun occurring in every major Iraqi city.
29) A spontaneous crowd of cheering Iraqis showed up in a Baghdad 0asquare to celebrate the toppling of Saddam's statue.
A long-distance shot of the same scene that was widely posted on 0athe internet shows that the teeming mob consisted of only one or two hundred 0asouls, contrary to the impression given by all the close-up TV news shots of 0awhat appeared to be a massive gathering. It was later reported that members of 0aAhmed Chalabi's local entourage made up most of the throng.
30) No major figure in the Bush administration said that the 0aIraqi populace would turn out en masse to welcome the U.S. military 0aas
When confronted with--oh, call them reality deficits--one habit 0aof the Bushmen is to deny that they made erroneous or misleading statements to 0abegin with, secure in the knowledge that the media will rarely muster the energy 0ato look it up and call them on it. They did it when their bold prewar WMD 0apredictions failed to pan out (We never said it would be easy! No, they only 0aimplied it), and they did it when the "jubilant Iraqis" who took to the streets 0aafter the fall of Saddam turned out to be anything but (We never promised they 0awould welcome us with open arms!).
But they did. March 16, Dick Cheney, Meet the Press: The Iraqis 0aare desperate "to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome 0aas
liberators the United States when we come to do that.... [T]he vast 0amajority of them would turn on [Saddam] in a minute if, in fact, they thought 0athey could do so safely").
31) The U.S. achieved its stated objectives in Afghanistan, and 0avanquished the Taliban.
According to accounts in the Asia Times of Hong Kong, the U.S. 0aheld a secret meeting earlier this year with Taliban leaders and Pakistani 0aintelligence officials to offer a deal to the Taliban for inclusion in the 0aAfghan government. (Main condition: Dump Mullah Omar.) As Michael Tomasky 0acommented in The American Prospect, "The first thing you may be wondering: Why 0ais there a possible role for the Taliban in a future government? Isn't that 0afellow Hamid Karzai running things, and isn't it all going basically okay? As it 0aturns out, not really and not at all.... The reality... is an escalating 0aguerilla war in which 'small hit-and-run attacks are a daily feature in most 0aparts of the country, while face-to-face skirmishes are common in the former 0aTaliban stronghold around Kandahar in the south.'"
32) Careful science demonstrates that depleted uranium is no big 0arisk to the population.
Pure nonsense. While the government has trotted out expert after 0aexpert to debunk the dangers of depleted uranium, DU has been implicated in 0ahealth troubles experienced both by Iraqis and by U.S. and allied soldiers in 0athe first Gulf War. Unexploded DU shells are not a grave danger, but detonated 0aones release particles that eventually find their way into air, soil, water, and 0afood.
While we're on the subject, the BBC reported a couple of months 0aago that recent tests of Afghani civilians have turned up with unusually high 0aconcentrations of non-depleted uranium isotopes in their urine.
International 0amonitors have called it almost conclusive evidence that the U.S. used a new kind 0aof uranium-laced bomb in the Afghan war.
33) The looting of Iraqi nuclear facilities presented no big risk 0ato the population.
Commanders on the scene, and Rumsfeld back in Washington, 0aimmediately assured everyone that the looting of a facility where raw uranium 0apowder (so-called "yellowcake") and several other radioactive isotopes were 0astored was no serious danger to the populace--yet the looting of the facility 0acame to light in part because, as the Washington Times noted, "U.S. and British 0anewspaper reports have suggested that residents of the area were suffering from 0asevere ill health after tipping out yellowcake powder from barrels and using 0athem to store food."
34) U.S. troops were under attack when they fired upon a crowd of 0acivilian protesters in Mosul.
April 15: U.S. troops fire into a crowd of protesters when it 0agrows angry at the pro-Western speech being given by the town's new mayor, 0aMashaan al-Juburi. Seven are killed and dozens injured. Eyewitness accounts say 0athe soldiers spirit Juburi away as he is pelted with objects by the crowd, then 0atake sniper positions and begin firing on the crowd.
35) U.S. troops were under attack when they fired upon two 0aseparate crowds of civilian protesters in Fallujah.
April 28: American troops fire into a crowd of demonstrators 0agathered on Saddam's birthday, killing 13 and injuring 75. U.S. commanders claim 0athe troops had come under fire, but eyewitnesses contradict the account, saying 0athe troops started shooting after they were spooked by warning shots fired over 0athe crowd by one of the Americans' own Humvees. Two days later U.S. soldiers 0afired on another crowd in Fallujah, killing three more.
36) The Iraqis fighting occupation forces consist almost entirely 0aof "Saddam supporters" or "Ba'ath remnants."
This has been the subject of considerable spin on the Bushmen's 0apart in the past month, since they launched Operation Sidewinder to capture or 0akill 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 0ain the Sunni-dominated areas that were Saddam's stronghold, and there is no 0aquestion that Saddam partisans are numerous there. But, perhaps for that reason, 0amany other guerrilla fighters have flocked there to wage jihad, both from within 0aand without Iraq. Around the time of the U.S. invasion, some 10,000 or so 0aforeign fighters had crossed into Iraq, and I've seen no informed estimate of 0ahow many more may have joined them since.
(No room here, but if you check the online version of this story, 0athere's a footnote regarding one less-than-obvious reason former Republican 0aGuard personnel may be fighting mad at this point.)
37) The bidding process for Iraq rebuilding contracts displayed 0ano favoritism toward Bush and Cheney's oil/gas cronies.
Most notoriously, Dick Cheney's former energy-sector 0aemployer,
Halliburton, was all over the press dispatches about the first 0around of rebuilding contracts. So much so that they were eventually obliged to 0abow out of the running for a $1 billion reconstruction contract for the sake of 0atheir own PR profile. But Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown Root still 0areceived the first major plum in the form of a $7 billion contract to tend to 0aoil field fires and (the real purpose) to do any retooling necessary to get the 0aoil pumping at a decent rate, a deal that allows them a cool $500 million in 0aprofit. The fact that Dick Cheney's office is still fighting tooth and nail to 0ablock any disclosure of the individuals and companies with whom his energy task 0aforce consulted tells everything you need to know.
38) "We found the WMDs!"
There have been at least half a dozen junctures at which the 0aBushmen have breathlessly informed the press that allied troops had found the 0aWMD smoking gun, including the president himself, who on June 1 0atold
reporters, "For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing 0adevices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them."
Shouldn't these quickly falsified statements be counted as errors 0arather than lies? Under the circumstances, no. First, there is just 0atoo
voluminous a record of the administration going on the media offensive to 0atout lines they know to be flimsy. This appears to be more of same. Second, if 0athe great genius Karl Rove and the rest of the Bushmen have demonstrated that 0athey understand anything about the propaganda potential of the historical moment 0athey've inherited, they surely understand that repetition is everything. Get 0ayour message out regularly, and even if it's false a good many people will 0abelieve it.
Finally, we don't have to speculate about whether the 0aadministration would really plant bogus WMD evidence in the American media, 0abecause they have already done it, most visibly in the case of Judith Miller of 0athe New York Times and the Iraqi defector "scientist" she wrote about at the 0amilitary's behest on April 21. Miller did not even get to speak with the 0apurported scientist, but she graciously passed on several things American 0acommanders claimed he said: that Iraq only destroyed its chemical weapons days 0abefore the war, that WMD materiel had been shipped to Syria, and that Iraq had 0aties to al Qaeda. As Slate media critic Jack Shafer told WNYC Radio's On the 0aMedia program, "When you... look at [her story], you find that it's gas, it's 0aair. There's no way to judge the value of her information, because it comes from 0aan unnamed source that won't let her verify any aspect of it. And if you dig 0ainto the story... you'll find out that the only thing that Miller has 0aindependently observed is a man that the military says is the scientist, wearing 0aa 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, 0ain a recent New York Times op-ed. He failed to add that disagreeing can get you 0ashot or arrested under the terms of the Pentagon's latest plan for pacifying 0aIraq, Operation Sidewinder (see #36), a military op launched last month to wipe 0aout all remaining Ba'athists and Saddam
partisans--meaning, in practice, 0aanyone who resists the U.S. occupation too zealously.
40) God told Bush to invade Iraq.
Not long after the September 11 attacks, neoconservative high 0apriest Norman Podhoretz wrote: "One hears that Bush, who entered the White House 0awithout a clear sense of what he wanted to do there, now feels there was a 0apurpose behind his election all along; as a born-again Christian, it is said, he 0abelieves he was chosen by God to eradicate the evil of terrorism from the 0aworld."
No, he really believes it, or so he would like us to think. 0aThe
Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Israeli newspaper 0aHa'aretz that Bush made the following pronouncement during a recent meeting 0abetween the two: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then 0ahe instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to 0asolve the problem in the Middle East."
Oddly, it never got much play back home.