Bush Administration Repeatedly Peddled False Information About Iraqi Bio Labs

This morning, the Washington Post reported an explosive story that a secret, fact-finding team of scientists and engineers sponsored by the Pentagon determined in May 2003 that two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops were not evidence of an Iraqi biological weapons program. What makes the story so important is that this nine-member team “transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003.”

Despite having authoritative evidence that the biological laboratories claim was false, the administration continued to peddle the myth over the next four months. Below is a compilation of the administration’s false statements specifically in regards to the biological facilities:

BUSH: We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. [Bush on Polish TV, 5/29/03]

POWELL: We have already discovered mobile biological factories of the kind that I described to the Security Council on the 5th of February. We have now found them. There is no question in our mind that that’s what their purpose was. Nobody has come up with an alternate purpose that makes sense. [Powell, 6/2/03]

WOLFOWITZ: We — as the whole world knows — have in fact found some significant evidence to confirm exactly what Secretary Powell said when he spoke to the United Nations about the development of mobile biological weapons production facilities that would seem to confirm fairly precisely the information we received from several defectors, one in particular who described the program in some detail. [Wolfowitz, 6/3/03]

RICE: But let’s remember what we’ve already found. Secretary Powell on February 5th talked about a mobile, biological weapons capability. That has now been found and this is a weapons laboratory trailers capable of making a lot of agent that–dry agent, dry biological agent that can kill a lot of people. So we are finding these pieces that were described. “¦ This was a program that was built for deceit and concealment. [CNBC, 6/3/03]

JOHN BOLTON: And I think the presentation that Secretary Powell made to the Security Council some months ago, which he worked on day and night for four or five days before going up to New York, is actually standing up very well to the test of reality as we learn more about what was going on inside Iraq. He explained to the Security Council and, indeed, showed diagrams of mobile biological weapons production facilities. We have already found two such laboratories. [Testimony before House International Relations Committee, 6/4/03]

BUSH: We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents. [Bush, 6/5/03]

POWELL: And I would put before you exhibit A, the mobile biological labs that we have found. Now, people are saying, well, are they truly mobile biological labs? Yes, they are. [Fox News Sunday, 6/8/03]

POWELL: I believe that they did have them and still have them, and I am confident that as we continue our efforts we will find these weapons, as well as the programs that supported these weapons. The mobile biological laboratories that were found and presented to the world, I think, is a further evidence of this. [Powell on al-Arabiyya, 6/23/03]

POWELL: [The State Department’s intelligence analysts’] confidence level is increasing. “¦ And so we have been in complete open analysis with, you know, having a complete open analysis with the CIA, and the Director of Central Intelligence remains confident of his judgment. And frankly, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that that judgment is wrong. [Powell, 6/26/03]

POWELL: I reviewed that presentation that I made on the 5th of February a number of times, as you might imagine, over recent weeks, and it holds up very well. It was the solid, coordinated judgment of the intelligence community. Some of the things that I talked about that day we have now seen in reality. We have found the mobile biological weapons labs that I could only show cartoons of that day. We now have them. [NBC Today Show, 6/30/03]

CHENEY: We had intelligence reporting before the war that there were at least seven of these mobile labs that he had gone out and acquired. We’ve, since the war, found two of them. They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack. [Meet the Press, 9/14/03]

POWELL: And even though there are differences within the overall intelligence community, the Director of Central Intelligence, examining all of the material with respect to that van and examining counter-arguments as to what it might be, stands behind the judgment that what we found was positive evidence of a mobile biological weapons lab, and it has not been discounted sufficiently. [ABC This Week, 9/28/03]

UPDATE: TPM Muckraker has some more quotes from Rumsfeld (5/29), Wolfowitz (5/31 and 6/3), and Feith (7/7).

UPDATE II: TalkingPointsMemo has a quote from Cheney pushing the myth in January 2004.