CONJURING UP THREATS   [Cont'd]
I don't think that Iraq is especially eager in the biological
and chemical area to produce such weapons for storage
(Former UNSCOM chief, Rolf Ekeus, 3/00).
When I left Iraq in 1998... the [nuclear] infrastructure
and facilities had been 100% eliminated.
There's no debate about that. All of their instruments
and facilities had been destroyed. The weapons design
facility had been destroyed. The production equipment
had been hunted down and destroyed
(Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, 9/02).
Britain compiled a "dossier" that led Tony Blair
to declare the level of threat "serious and current."
And yet his own chief of staff, Jonathan Powell,
wrote in an email:
According to Ha'aretz columnist Gideon Levy, Israel's
previous director of Military Intelligence, Amos Malka,
declared in Fall 2002
that "he was more concerned about traffic accidents" in Israel
than WMD in Iraq
As we all know now, the terrorist threat from Iraq was equally
nonexistent (today, of course, thanks to Bush, it is a different story).
A review of the prewar intelligence revealed an astonishing
level of doubt and uncertainty.
The Nation's David Corn has revealed that
these doubts were acknowledged by no less than
a former deputy CIA director,
the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House intelligence
committee, the chief weapons hunter,
and the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee
And yet Bush had no compunction
The dossier does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an
It worked. In August 2003, up to
82% of Americans believed that Saddam provided
assistance to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network,
and 69% of them found it likely that Saddam was "personally involved" in 9/11
(All those Elvis sightings are beginning to make sense, aren't they?)
Was it the trauma of 9/11 that
allowed such brainwashing to take place in a vacuum of
What happened to the proud institutions that
gave us the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate investigations?
Why such abject subservience of the national media
to the powers in Washington? Why such spinelessness?
A story for another day.
You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when
you talk about the war on terror
(George W. Bush, 09/02
We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in
bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases... Alliance with terrorists
could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving
any fingerprints (George W. Bush, 10/7/03
The obvious question: Why would the Bush administration choose
to humiliate Blix and his team,
cherry-pick intelligence, hype the threat of WMD,
and dream up imaginary Saddam-al Qaeda links?
The Rumsfeld outburst mentioned earlier holds the answer.
Regime change in Iraq
was high on the neocon agenda throughout the nineties.
After 9/11 Bush was sold on the idea.
The first indication that he would take us to war
regardless of the outcome of any future weapons inspections
came in March 2002 .
Referring to Saddam, Bush
bellowed to a group of senators: "We're taking him out!"
Dispelling any doubt about the president's intentions,
Cheney reiterated the same message shortly after.
The decision having been made, the only job left was
to sell it to the public.
Since remaking the Middle East
to conform to Bush's imperial dreams was likely to
sell as briskly as an Edsel, the White House decided to
play to 9/11 anxieties instead; hence, the WMD threat, terror links, etc.
Britain's insistence in Fall 2002
on going to the UN and getting Resolution 1441 passed
was welcome by the US as a convenient way of appearing
conciliatory while buying time for a military
assault not yet ready for launch.
Richard Perle has recently revealed that
a last-ditch attempt by Iraqi officials
to avoid military confrontation in March 2003
was rebuffed by the US .
Nothing was to stand in the way of war.
The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with
the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one
issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons
of mass destruction, as the core reason
(Paul Wolfowitz ).
Not only was Bush determined to go to war regardless of
the sideshow at the UN, he literally rushed into it.
The evidence is abundant and incontrovertible.
The UN weapons inspection team reported progress
and protested its dismissal in March 2003.
With hindsight it did an excellent job
in not finding what did not exist.
A British draft of a UN resolution authorizing war
was certain to garner at least 10 votes (enough to pass),
thus leaving France with the dreaded option of vetoing it.
As Clinton's former Assistant Secretary of State James P. Rubin
Rubin also refutes the canard that France forced
Bush into war by its uncompromising refusal to entertain
a military outcome.
Merely offering several more weeks would likely have yielded
ten votes for the British resolution, but Bush refused.
Nine extra months? You must surely be joking!
Now that we know how close we came to nuclear annihilation
at the hands of Saddam, blessed be Bush's soul
for ignoring Chirac's craven advice...
... Chirac would have gone along with the use of force
if a nine-month schedule had been set at the beginning.
The White House's burning desire to attack Iraq
required a new language of certitude and foreboding.
Public support for the war might not
have survived a candid presentation of
the available intelligence, based as it was on
conflicting reports, dubious testimonies
by Iraqi defectors, plagiarized PhD theses,
forged documentation of uranium sales,
misidentification of aluminum tubes, etc.
The lack of any smoking gun did not help either.
Faced with this conundrum, the White House
pulled out all the stops and launched what may
go down in history as the most egregious,
guileful, sedulous, systematic campaign of
lies ever orchestrated by a US administration.
There we have it, the hype, the fabricated trepidation,
the faked certainty of the uncertain:
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has
weapons of mass destruction (Dick Cheney, 8/26/02).
There is no doubt that [Saddam] has chemical weapons stocks
(Colin Powell, 9/8/02).
Intelligence gathered by this and other governments
leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to
possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised
(George W. Bush, 3/17/03).
Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information
that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction,
biological and chemical particularly...
(Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 3/21/03).
There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses
weapons of mass destruction,
(Head of US Central Command Gen. Tommy Franks, 3/22/03).
I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction
(Defense Policy Board member, Kenneth Adelman, 3/23/03).
I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction
there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting
it just now (Colin Powell, 5/4/03).
I have absolutely no doubt at all about the existence of
weapons of mass destruction (Tony Blair, 5/29/03).
Never in the field of human conflict
was so much bunk served by so few to so many.
While no terrorist link between Saddam and Osama has been established,
unfortunately the same cannot be said of the US government and the Taliban.
This is the story of
an intrepid Texan congressman named
Charlie Wilson and a belly-dancer, former Miss World contender,
named Joanne Herring, convincing the US government to
arm the Afghan Mujahideen with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles
to help them defeat the Russians .
The sequel, entitled "freedom fighter today, terrorist tomorrow," is
about the most spectacular case of blowback the US has ever suffered,
featuring a certain Osama bin Laden in the role of the
snake that we thought was a pet.
Meanwhile, Bush's obsession with Saddam led him to drop the ball
in Afghanistan and move the war on terror to the back burner.
Another story, less well known but just as riveting,
is the Bush administration's bestowing $43 million
on the Taliban just a few months before 9/11.
Those nasty hand choppers might be reviled for their enslavement of
women, their theocratic subjugation of men,
their destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas,
and their virulent brand of anti-Americanism.
But, you see, the Taliban frown on drugs
as much as Bush fancied them in his youth;
and they are just so much better at drug law enforcement than our own DEA
(they do chop hands after all).
So, what more natural than for Colin Powell
to declare in May 2001 that the US would reward their efficiency
by becoming the single largest sponsor of the Taliban?
Savor, and shudder at, Robert Scheer's prescient words in the Los Angeles Times
The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of
our own drug war zealots, but in the end this alliance
will prove a costly failure. Our long sad history of
signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates
the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession.
The Economist, October 4, 2003.
A deafening silence, by Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, October 6, 2002.
Bush's Unreliable Intelligence,
by David Corn, The Nation, November 12, 2003.
Rice: Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical weapons, CNN, September 26, 2002.
President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat,
by George W. Bush, Cincinnati, October 7, 2002.
Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11 Attacks,
Washington Post Poll, September 6, 2003.
We're Taking Him Out,
CNN, May 6, 2002.
May 9, 2003 interview of Paul Wolfowitz by Sam Tannenbaus,
published in Vanity Fair, July 2003.
Iraq Said to Have Tried to Reach Last-Minute Deal to Avert War,
by James Risen, The New York Times, November 6, 2003.
Stumbling into War,
by James P. Rubin, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2003.
Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History,
by George Crile, Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2003.
Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban,
by Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2001.