OCTOBER 7, 2002: Bush Misled Us Into War

OCTOBER 7, 2002: Bush Misled Us Into War

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Three years ago today, President Bush visited Cincinnati to deliver a major address outlining the reasons for war, just as Congress was considering whether to vote in favor of giving Bush the authorization to attack Iraq. On October 7, 2002, Bush made a number of misleading and exaggerated statements about the Iraqi threat.

Threat of Nuclear Weapons

Bush: “Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Duelfer Report: Saddam Was Not Planning to Restart Nuclear Program. “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program. Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to the 1991 war, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years.” [Duelfer Report, Key Findings]

* FACT: Senate Intelligence Committee Reported That Intelligence Estimates Said Iraq Did Not Have Nuclear Weapons. The Senate Intelligence Committee reported, “After reviewing all of the intelligence provided by the Intelligence Community and additional information requested by the Committee, the Committee believes that the judgment in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, was not supported by the intelligence. The Committee agrees with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) alternative view that the available intelligence ‘does not add up to a compelling case for reconstitution.'” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, Conclusion #27]

* FACT: Bush Administration Rhetoric Was “Significant Shift” From Intelligence Estimate. “The [Senate Intelligence Committee] report said the CIA made a ‘significant shift’ in its position two months after Cheney began stating publicly that Iraq had actively reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. The intelligence estimate, which echoed the administration’s public claims, ‘was not supported by the intelligence’ and relied on misstatements, concealment of doubts and suppression of evidence.” [Washington Post, 7/10/04]

Saddam Had WMD

Bush: “[Iraq] possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons…Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Duelfer Report: Saddam Was Not Planning to Restart Nuclear Program. “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program. Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to the 1991 war, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years.” [Duelfer Report, Key Findings]

* FACT: David Kay Said No WMD Stockpiles In Iraq. Weapons Inspector David Kay told the US Senate that “”¦ it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons there”¦ I think there are no large — were no large stockpiles of WMD.” [Kay Testimony, 1/28/04]

* FACT: Duelfer Report: Iraq Had No Strategy or Plan After Sanctions. Duelfer: “The regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of W.M.D. after sanctions.” [CNN, 1/12/05]

Iraqi Scientists Reconstituting Nuclear Weapons

Bush: “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his ‘nuclear mujahedeen,’ his nuclear holy warriors.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Scientists Were Working On Non-Nuclear Projects. Despite Bush’s allegation that Hussein met often with Iraqi scientists, he “did not disclose that the known work of the scientists was largely benign. Iraq’s three top gas centrifuge experts, for example, ran a copper factory, an operation to extract graphite from oil and a mechanical engineering design center at Rashidiya.” [Washington Post, 8/10/03]

* FACT: Scientist Said Weapons Didn’t Exist After 1991. “A scientist who headed Iraq’s nuclear programme said deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had given up all weapons of mass destruction in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. ‘There was no capability. There was no chemical or biological or any what are called weapons of mass destruction,’ Jaffar Dhia Jaffar said in what BBC television called his first-ever broadcast interview. Speaking in Paris, where he now lives, Jaffar — who ran Saddam’s nuclear programme for 25 years — said there was ‘no development’ of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons ‘at any time after 1991.’ He said he knew that for a fact ‘because I am in touch with the people concerned.'” [Agence France Press, 8/12/04]

Aluminum Tubes To Produce Weapons

Bush: “Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Senate Intelligence Report Found Aluminum Tubes Were Not Being Used To Reconstitute Nuclear Weapons. The Senate Intel Committee found, “Numerous intelligence reports provided to the Committee showed that Iraq was trying to procure high-strength aluminum tubes. The Committee believes that the information available to the Intelligence Community indicated that these tubes were intended to be used for an Iraqi conventional rocket program and not a nuclear program.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, Conclusion #29]

* FACT: No Evidence That Iraq’s Nuclear Program Was Being Reconstituted. According to a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “Iraq’s nuclear program had been dismantled and there was no convincing evidence of its reconstitution.” [CEIP: “WMD In Iraq,” 1/2004]

* FACT: Duelfer: Aluminum Tubes Not For Nuclear Weapons. Duelfer: “That is my judgment that those — those tubes were most likely destined for a rocket program.” [Duelfer hearing, 10/7/04]

Iraq Developing UAVs

Bush: “We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical and biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Air Force Reported That It Was Not Convinced About Drones. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “In making its case for war with Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration painted a much more threatening picture of Iraqi drones than was justified, according to Air Force intelligence estimates now coming to light”¦.The Air Force, which has expertise in designing such unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, was never convinced Baghdad had developed drones capable of effectively distributing chemical and biological weapons as the White House claimed.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/10/03]

* FACT: UN Chief Weapons Inspector Said No Evidence of Iraqi UAV Program Existed. The Washington Post reported, “The United Nations’ chief weapons inspector has concluded there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein’s government ever developed unpiloted drones capable of dispersing chemical and biological weapons agents on enemy targets.” [Washington Post, 9/5/04]

Iraq/Al Qaeda Relationship

Bush: “We know that Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network share a common enemy: the United States of America. We know that Iraq and Al Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: 9-11 Commission Report: No “Collaborative Operational Relationship” Between Iraq/al Qaeda. “We have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.” [9-11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04]

* FACT: Senate Intelligence Committee: No “Established, Formal” Relationship Between Iraq/al Qaeda. “The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report said CIA analysts were reasonable in their conclusion that there was no ‘established, formal’ relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, nor proof that the two had collaborated in attacks. The committee noted that no new information had emerged since the CIA’s key reports to suggest otherwise.” [Los Angeles Times, 7/10/04]

Zarqawi Presence In Iraq

Bush: “Some Al Qaida leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior Al Qaida leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Zarqawi Operated In Area Outside Saddam’s Control. Zarqawi was widely regarded to be the “leader” of Ansar al-Islam prior to the war against Iraq. However, according to the AP, “Ansar al-Islam operated in a region of northern Iraq that was outside of Saddam’s control before the war. It was bombed by U.S. warplanes during the fighting.” [AP, 1/24/04]

* FACT: Zarqawi Operated Independently of Saddam. In a statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2004, “CIA Director George J. Tenet described Zarqawi’s network among other groups having ‘links’ to al Qaeda but with its own ‘autonomous leadership”¦ own targets [and] they plan their own attacks.’ Although Zarqawi may have cooperated with al Qaeda in the past, U.S. officials say it is increasingly clear he had been operating independently of Osama bin Laden’s organization.” [Washington Post, 6/16/04]

Bush Linking Iraq to 9/11

Bush: “Some citizens wonder, ‘After 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now?’ And there’s a reason. We have experienced the horror of September the 11th.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Bush Distanced Himself From Connection Between Saddam and 9/11.
Bush: “This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaida.” [Bush, 6/17/04]

Bush: “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th.” [Bush, 9/17/03]

Plan For War

Bush: “If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Secret Joint Chiefs Report: Pentagon Planners Not Given Time To Plan for Reconstruction In Post-War Iraq. In August 2003, a Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared a secret report called “Operation Iraqi Freedom Strategic Lessons Learned.” The report, described by the Washington Times, blamed “setbacks in Iraq on a flawed and rushed war-planning process that ‘limited the focus’ for preparing for post-Saddam Hussein operations.” The Washington Times noted that the Joint Chiefs report “reveals discrepancies in the planning process. It says planners were not given enough time to put together the best blueprint for what is called Phase IV””the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq.” [Washington Times, 9/3/03]

* FACT: Pentagon Ignored Early State Department Predictions Of Post-War Problems. A New York Times report found that, “A yearlong State Department study predicted many of the problems that have plagued the American-led occupation of Iraq.” The study was produced by experts on Iraq from various fields, yet “several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials” until after the war. [New York Times, 10/19/03]

* FACT: Bush Admitted Miscalculations. George Bush admitted in an interview that “he made a ‘miscalculation of what the conditions would be’ in postwar Iraq.” [Washington Post, 8/31/04]

War With Iraq Link To War on Terror

Bush: “Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: War In Iraq Hurt War On Terror. Former Bush counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke believes that by going to war in Iraq, “we delivered to Al Qaeda the greatest recruitment propaganda imaginable.” Clarke testified before the 9/11 commission and said that “by invading Iraq, the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism.” [Newsweek, 4/12/04; Clarke 9/11 Commission Testimony, 3/24/04]

Al Qaeda Members Trained In Bomb-Making In Iraq

Bush: “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: 9-11 Commission Report Said Iraq-Al Qaeda Link Was False. “Although there have been suggestions of contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda regarding chemical weapons and explosive trainings, the most detailed information alleging such ties came from an Al Qaeda operative who recanted much of his original information.” [9-11 Commission Report, footnote p.470]

* FACT: Bush Admin Questionable Rhetoric Cited As Facts. A Senate report prepared by the C.I.A. in September 2002 on “Iraqi Ties to Terrorism” described claims that Iraq had provided “training in poisons and gases” to al Qaeda members, but “it cautioned that the information had come from ‘sources of varying reliability.'” By contrast, “Most public statements by Mr. Bush and other administration officials on the matter described the assertions as matters of fact.” [New York Times, 7/30/04]

Iraq’s Long-Range Missiles

Bush: “Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles – far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations – in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work.” [Bush remarks, 10/7/02]

* FACT: Inspectors Findings Disprove Bush Claims. “Inspectors have found that the Al Samoud-2 missiles can travel less than 200 miles — not far enough to hit the targets Bush named. Iraq has not accounted for 14 medium-range Scud missiles from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but the administration has not presented any evidence that they still exist.” [Washington Post, 3/18/03]