Lies Leading to the Iraq War

by Nile Stanton

March 17, 2023

      Let's take a quick stroll down memory lane. Twenty years ago, the war drums were pounding more loudly than they had in many years. A crescendo that was about to explode had begun in earnest months before.

      President George W. Bush:
  The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons.
Remarks to Congressional Leaders in the Rose Garden, September 26, 2002.
  The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more, and according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given.
Radio Address to the Nation, September 28, 2002.
  In defiance of pledges to the United Nations, Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons.
Radio Address to the Nation, October 5, 2002.

      Vice President Dick Cheney:

  The Iraqi regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents. And they continue to pursue the nuclear program they began so many years ago. These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq; these are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.... Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

Speech to the VFW National Convention, August 26, 2002.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

  There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons. There's no debate in the world as to whether they're continuing to develop and acquire them.... We all know that. A trained ape knows that.

Media Roundtable, September 13, 2002.
  We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
ABC Interview, March 30, 2003.

      In addition to making general claims to the effect that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and could deploy them quickly and that we couldn't wait for Iraq's threat to be "manifested in the form of a mushroom cloud," the Bush Administration touted several very specific claims as well.

Here are three prominent ones:

(1) It claimed that documents showed that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger, but those documents were promptly demonstrated to be crude forgeries.

(2) It asserted that Iraq had mobile biological weapons labs, but it turned out that they were hydrogen generators for meteorological balloons, sold to Iraq by the British.

(3) It announced that we'd found evidence that Iraq had imported aluminum tubes that could only be used for uranium enrichment, but it was quickly established that they were for Iraqi rocket casings exactly as Iraq had claimed.


      The now famous Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002, the official minutes (leaked to the London Sunday Times and first published on May 1, 2005) of a briefing by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI-6, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials, stated in part:
  C [Dearlove] reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
(Emphasis added.) 


       On March 19, 2003, the United States initiated a full scale military attack on Iraq.

       The previous month the Bush Administration had presented its case to the Security Council of the U.N. through Secretary of State Colin Powell. Thereafter, the weapons inspections reports of Hans Blix (head the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) and Mohamed ElBaradei (head of the International Atomic Energy Agency) to the U.N. Security Council in early March of 2003 pointedly noted that while Iraq had dithered and dallied in their "cooperation" with inspectors for a long time, in the five weeks preceding their testimony, the inspections teams had total cooperation, were able to make unannounced spot checks at any time and at any place they liked, had inspected all of the 400-plus "suspected" WMD cites suggested by the CIA, and had found no prohibited weapons, although more time was needed to verify things.

      Blix and ElBaradei thanked the United States and credited the build-up of the U.S. military force in the area as having done much to secure Iraq's cooperation. They also implored that the inspections be allowed to continue. Then, when the U.N. Security Council was clearly not going to approve of the use of force to "disarm" Iraq, the U.S. withdrew its resolution proposing that, ordered the inspectors out of Iraq, and invaded. Thereafter, the Iraq Survey Group's Kay Report and subsequent Duelfer Report both concluded that there were no WMDs.

       In April of 2005, an Associated Press release briefly summarizing the Duelfer Report began: "In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has 'gone as far as feasible' and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion."

      The United States demanded that Iraq surrender weapons it not have, then invaded when the weapons were not produced.

      Was Saddam Hussein actually adequately contained before 9/11? Yes, he was.

      Consider: Speaking at a press conference in Cairo, Egypt, on February 24, 2001, then Secretary of State Colin Powell, said this in partial answer to the first question posed to him:
  We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions [against Iraq] to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place....

      In early 2001, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice made statements to the same effect as well, that Saddam was contained. However, in early March of 2003, Powell made detailed factual assertions before the Security Council concerning Iraq's alleged weapons capabilities and plans to use them. (It appears to me that he, like many others, got hoodwinked by the neoconservative propaganda machine.) Later, Powell sadly admitted that most of his claims before the Security Council turned out to be "false or misleading." What he'd said in Cairo ultimately turned out to be much closer to the truth.

      What happened? When the Bush administration didn't like the intelligence reports it was getting, in August 2002, it created the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), overseen by Stephen Hadley.
Soon thereafter, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith created the Office of Special Plans (OSP) inside the Pentagon to coordinate with Hadley's group to filter-massage-create the sort of "evidence" the administration wanted to justify the U.S. invasion.

      The result? - Vast numbers of deaths, widespread disease, the destruction of innumerable homes, hospitals, schools, water delivery systems and sewer systems, horrific pain, financial ruin and more.

      Don't be fooled again.


* Nile Stanton lives in southern Spain. He was a professor for the University of Maryland University College for 20 years, where he taught U.S. active duty service members on U.S. military bases in Spain, Italy, Bosnia, and (mostly) Greece as well as online to troops throughout Europe and Asia. The course he taught most often (32 iterations) was the upper-level government course called “Law, Morality, and War.” Thereafter, he taught for the University of New England at its Tangier, Morocco, campus for two years, where his signature course was “War and Public Health.” He was born and raised a Quaker and tends to examine the excuses for war and lack of diplomacy more carefully and from a different perspective than many people.

Nile |@|