Urban Legends About the Iraq War
In recent weeks, by claiming that President Bush lied us into the Iraq war, many on the Left have restarted their efforts to rewrite history. But this revisionism isn’t new. In the midst of the 2004 Presidential election, the cries were just as loud. The Bush Administration is finally pushing back, and many conservative bloggers are asking their readers to Google Clinton, Iraq, 1998 for all the information they need. Last fall, The American Enterprise debunked many of these same urban legends. Click here to purchase this issue.
Urban Legends About the Iraq War
Urban Legend: The Bush Administration in general, and the Vice President and his office in particular, pressured the Central Intelligence Agency to exaggerate evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Reality: Here is the verdict of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s bipartisan Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq: “The Committee did not find any evidence that intelligence analysts changed their judgments as a result of political pressure, altered or produced intelligence products to conform with administration policy, or that anyone even attempted to coerce, influence, or pressure analysts to do so. When asked whether analysts were pressured in any way to alter their assessments or make their judgments conform with administration policies on Iraq’s WMD programs, not a single analyst answered ‘yes.’”
Urban Legend: The President and his administration intentionally misled the country into war with Iraq—and the “16 words” that appeared in the 2003 State of the Union are the best proof of it. In the words of Senator Ted Kennedy, “The gross abuse of intelligence was on full display in the President’s State of the Union…when he spoke the now infamous 16 words: ‘The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.’… As we all now know, that allegation was false….”
Reality: On July 14, 2004—after a nearly half-year investigation—a special panel reported to the British Parliament that British intelligence had indeed concluded that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium from Africa. The Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by Lord Butler, summarized: “It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium…. The statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that ‘The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa’ was well-founded.”
In the U.S., the Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq revealed that the CIA considered it important that the Nigerian officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerian Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.” The Select Committee on Intelligence also noted that the CIA reviewed and cleared the President’s State of the Union address....
Urban Legend: Helping democracy take root in Iraq was a postwar rationalization by the Bush administration; it was an argument that was not made prior to going to war. In the words of a November 13, 2003 New York Times editorial, “The White House recently began shifting its case for the Iraq war from the embarrassing unconventional weapons issue to the lofty vision of creating an exemplary democracy in Iraq.”
Reality: The President argued the importance of democracy taking root in Iraq before the war began. A February 27, 2003 New York Times editorial shatters the very myth the paper was perpetrating just nine months later: “President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night [in an American Enterprise Institute speech] of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a ‘free and peaceful Iraq’ that would serve as a ‘dramatic and inspiring example’ to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East, and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict. The idea of turning Iraq into a model democracy in the Arab world is one some members of the administration have been discussing for a long time.” President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union made the same case….
Urban Legend: Saddam Hussein posed no threat. In the words of former Senator Max Cleland, “Iraq was no threat. We now know that. There are no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons programs, no ties to al-Qaeda. We now know that.”
Reality: Upon his return from Iraq, weapons inspector David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, said in Senate testimony: “I think the world is far safer with the disappearance and the removal of Saddam Hussein…. I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought…. After 1998, it became a regime that was totally corrupt…. And in a world where we know others are seeking WMD, the likelihood at some point in the future of a seller and a buyer meeting up would have made that a far more dangerous country.”
Dr. Kay’s report noted that, “We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002.” He concluded, “Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction…. Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed. Several of these officials acknowledge receiving inquiries since 2000 from Saddam or his sons about how long it would take to restart CW [chemical weapons] production.”
Urban Legend: There were no links between al-Qaeda and Iraq.
Reality: The 9/11 Commission Report indicates that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan in late 1994 or early 1995 and that contacts continued after bin Laden relocated in Afghanistan. Iraq harbored senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaeda associate. CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (in a 10/7/02 letter), “We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade.” Senator Hillary Clinton stated on October 10, 2002 that Saddam “has given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members.” The Clinton administration tied Iraq to al-Qaeda back in 1998, arguing that Saddam Hussein had provided technical assistance in the construction of an al-Qaeda chemical plant in Sudan….
Urban Legend: President Bush and his administration wrongly tried to link Iraq and Saddam Hussein to the September 11 attacks. “President Bush should apologize to the American people” for this “plainly dishonest” effort, insists a New York Times editorial.
Reality: Neither President Bush nor any member of his foreign policy team has ever said Iraq was linked to the attacks of September 11. On September 17, 2003, for example, in response to a question from a reporter, President Bush said: “No, we’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September 11.”
Urban Legend: President Bush has shown an “arrogant disrespect” for the United Nations on Iraq, according to Senator Ted Kennedy.
Reality: The administration devoted enormous time and energy to pass five separate U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Iraq, each by unanimous vote.... President Bush personally addressed the U.N. General Assembly in September 2002. The administration supported the work of Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. special envoy in Iraq, and a continued U.N. role in Iraq’s political transition.
Urban Legend: The President launched a “unilateral attack on Iraq,” to use the words of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.
Reality: The coalition that liberated Iraq ranks among the largest war coalitions ever assembled. President Bush in his 2004 State of the Union address: “Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq…. There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.”
Urban Legend: Flights out of the country for members of the bin Laden family were allowed before national airspace reopened on September 13, 2001; there was political intervention to facilitate the departure of the bin Laden family from America; and the FBI did not properly screen them before their departure.
Reality: Here are excerpts from The 9/11 Commission Report: “First, we found no evidence that any flights of Saudi nationals, domestic or international, took place before the reopening of national airspace on the morning of September 13, 2001. To the contrary, every flight we have identified occurred after national airspace reopened.
Second, we found no evidence of political intervention. We found no evidence that anyone at the White House above the level of Richard Clarke participated in a decision on the departure of Saudi nationals....
Third, we believe that the FBI conducted a satisfactory screening of Saudi nationals who left the United States on charter flights.... The FBI interviewed all persons of interest on these flights prior to their departures. They concluded that none of the passengers was connected to the 9/11 attacks and have since found no evidence to change that conclusion. Our own independent review of the Saudi nationals involved confirms that no one with known links to terrorism departed on these flights.”
Published in The Year the Democratic Party Sailed to New England October-November 2004
Posted: November 16, 2005
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I'm so tired of all the myths (aka lies) posted by the miserable liberals. It's abot time someone dispelled some of them!!