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[casi] Top 40 Lies of the Busheyeen

Published on Wednesday, July 30, 2003 by the Minneapolis City Pages

The Bush Administration's Top 40 Lies about War and Terrorism
Bring 'em On!

by Steve Perry

1) The administration was not bent on war with Iraq from 9/11 onward.

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 this year.

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 and not."

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
of self-defense.

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

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 for war."

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 again.

7) An International Atomic Energy Agency report indicated that Iraq could be
as little as six months from making nuclear weapons.

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 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 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

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.

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

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

15) U.S. air defenses functioned according to protocols on September 11,

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

8:13 Flight 11 disobeys air traffic instructions and turns off its

8:40 NORAD command center claims first notification of likely Flight 11

8:42 Flight 175 veers off course and shuts down its transponder.

8:43 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 175 hijacking.

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 hijacking.

9:24 NORAD claims first notification of likely Flight 77 hijacking.

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 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 (, "[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. by 9/11."

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 minutes later.

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 war ended.

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
tensions there.)

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 people.

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, 4/11/03

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 was

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

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 Palestinian state.

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 terror suspects.

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 were 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 journalists.

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 hospital.

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 the events.

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 fine.

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

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,
and food.

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

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 point.)

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 zealously.

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

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.


This was truly a collaborative effort from start to finish. It began with
the notion of running a week-long marathon of Bush administration lies at my
online Bush Wars column ( Along the way my e-mail box
delivered more research assistance than I've ever received on any single
story. I need to thank Jeff St. Clair and the Counterpunch website
(, which featured the Lies marathon in addition to posting
valuable reportage and essays every day; I also received lots of lies
entries and documentary links from BW readers Rob Johnson, Ted Dibble, and
Donna Johnson, as well as my colleagues Mark Gisleson, Elaine Cassel, Sally
Ryan, Mike Mosedale, and Paul Demko. Dave Marsh provided valuable editing

I also found loads of valuable information through Cursor and Buzzflash, the
two best news links pages on the internet, and through research projects on
the Bushmen posted at Cooperative Research (,
Whiskey Bar (, and

But the heart of the effort was all the readers of Bush Wars who sent along
ideas and links that advanced the project. Many thanks to Estella Bloomberg,
Vince Bradley, Angela Bradshaw, Gary Burns, Elaine Cole, George Dobosh,
Deborah Eddy, David Erickson, Casey Finne, Douglas Gault, Jean T. Gordon,
Doug Henwood, George Hunsinger, Peter Lee, Eric Martin, Michael McFadden,
George McLaughlin, Eric T. Olson, Doug Payne, Alan W. Peck, Dennis Perrin,
Charles Prendergast, Publius, Michele Quinn, Ernesto Resnik, Ed Rickert,
Maritza Silverio, Marshall Smith, Robert David Steele, Ed Thornhill,
Christopher Veal, and Jennifer Vogel. And my apologies to anyone else whose
e-mails I didn't manage to save.

Editor'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.

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