Do you have a sense of deja vu? You’d be forgiven if you do. As far as Iraq is concerned, we are hearing from the very same people who got us in there in the first place. Stephen Colbert referred to them as the “Iraq Pack.” But we know them as war criminals. As we watch the violence in Iraq escalate, we hear more and more from these rapacious liars. It’s time we reviewed those lies so that we don’t buy any of them again.
Before we do that, let’s take a minute to review some history. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush involved the U.S. in the Kuwait-Iraq conflict, dubbed Desert Storm. Why? Because Kuwait was one of our
drug oil providers. We had to keep Saddam Hussein from taking control of those oil fields! But when Iraqi troops fled back into their own country, we didn’t follow. Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney praised the President’s decision not to continue to Baghdad and “get bogged down” with trying to “take over and govern Iraq.” Funny how a decade can change things. Of course, 9/11 happened at the end of that decade and, while I don’t buy into the idea that Bush Co. was behind it, I do think that they used it to further their designs on Iraq. Most of the men who were quick to want to invade Iraq after 9/11 were members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a group that advised President Clinton that “… the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power…” should be one of his goals.
Also in that decade, Dick Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton. I could fill a book with all the issues I have with Halliburton. Instead, I’ll let you read about that corporate black sheep in this excellent article by Charlie Cray.
On August 6, 2001 President George Bush was shown a daily briefing with the title, “”Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.” A CIA officer even flew to Bush’s ranch in Texas to make sure Bush saw it. Bush’s response? “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.” Then he went fishing.
We all know what happened next. But the lies started much earlier. In fact, they started before 9/11, even before Bush
was placed on the throne took office. In chronological order, here are the top 10 lies Republicans told the American people in the run-up to the Iraq War…
10. We had “inside information” on Saddam Hussein’s WMD.
What we had was a low-level engineer code-named “Curveball.” He was a follower of Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile with dreams to overthrow Saddam. In November of 1999, “Curveball” sought a German visa in Munich, where U.S. agents picked him up from German intelligence. “Curveball” filled our guys in on Saddam’s weapons program: he was the sole source for this intel. Unfortunately everything he said was made up. Fabricated. U.S. intelligence never did a background check on their source, never debriefed him. Despite this, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and CIA pass the information on to Bush Co. “Curveball” was granted German asylum in September of 2001, at which time he clammed up.
9. Bush wanted to get Osama bin Laden “Dead or Alive.”
On September 17, 2001, Bush told a reporter who asked if he wanted bin Laden dead: “I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, I recall, that says, “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” But that was just cover for Bush Co.’s actual target. Since the formation of PNAC, neo-cons had been shouting for Saddam Hussein’s head. When their boy took office, his administration was told to find a way to get Saddam. According to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill:
“From the start, we were building the case against Hussein and looking at how we could take him out and change Iraq into a new country,” he told Ron Suskind. “And, if we did that, it would solve everything. It was about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The President saying, ‘Fine. Go find me a way to do this.'”
So, the bluster about getting Osama bin Laden was just that. He was never the objective. Saddam was.
8. Iraq had aluminum tubes that could only be for nuclear centrifuges.
This was the only bit of physical evidence Bush Co. had to “prove” their claims of an Iraqi nuclear program. However, Department of Energy experts — the guys who know about these things — told the administration that the tubes found could not possibly be for nuclear centrifuges. They were the wrong size to be used to enrich uranium. The DOE said that the tubes were likely intended for a conventional rocket program. The International Atomic Energy Agency concurred.
7. VP Dick Cheney claims that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi spy in Prague.
Cheney made this claim many times, even after CIA, FBI and Czech intelligence could not corroborate a meeting between Atta and Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani (who was arrested in July, 2003). This lie was an attempt to link Saddam with Al Qaeda before invading Iraq even though no evidence of this was ever found. Ever. Even when the CIA had access to Iraqi files and personnel, they could find no evidence of a link. In fact, one of the highest-ranking “leaders” (see below) we captured, Abu Zubaydah, told the CIA that bin Laden disdained Saddam, considering him corrupt. There was no Al Qaeda in Iraq until the U.S. invasion opened Iraq up for the terrorist organization.
6. Torture worked to get real intelligence.
This lie was told often and is still one of the ex-Bush Co. members’ favorite go-to lies. Here is an example of what passed for interrogation before the War: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was a trainer for Al Qaeda who was captured in Pakistan Nov. 11, 2001. Libi was transferred to CIA custody against FBI advice. The FBI wanted to use standard interrogation methods but the CIA was eager to send Libi to Egypt for torture. According to an FBI agent who spoke to Newsweek:
“At the airport the CIA case officer goes up to him and says, ‘You’re going to Cairo, you know. Before you get there I’m going to find your mother and I’m going to f*** her.’”
Libi knew nothing about Iraq but that didn’t stop the CIA, who were under pressure from Bush Co. to make a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. So Libi was tortured — including waterboarding and a mock burial — until he
made something up provided information. Both Bush and Colin Powell used the false info to push for the war. Libi died under mysterious circumstances in 2009 in a Libyan prison.
5. Iraq was buying yellowcake uranium from Niger.
This first cropped up at the end of February, 2002. Former Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent to Niger to investigate. After only a week, Wilson returned to tell the CIA that there was no proof that this is happening. Bush Co. decided to ignore his report. That summer, the French (who colonized Niger) debunked the yellowcake story. The National Security Council advised Bush Co. that the evidence for the yellowcake story was “weak” and “overblown.” That December, Saddam provided the UN with documentation of its weapons. Bush Co. blew it off because it didn’t mention the yellowcake. The International Atomic Energy Agency told us that the papers which “confirmed” the yellowcake claim were forgeries. Nevertheless, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell asserted in mid-December that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake from Niger. In March of 2003, Joe Wilson appeared on CNN and mentioned that the papers were forgeries. This led to the outing of his CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. Despite being told that the claim was false, Bush mentioned it in his State of the Union address anyway, lying to the American people.
4. Abu Zubaydah was one of “top operating officials of Al Qaeda.”
Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, aka Abu Zubaydah, wasn’t even a member of Al Qaeda. Nor was he a member of the Taliban. Yet, after he was captured in April of 2002, he was imprisoned at a CIA “black site” and tortured extensively. Remember those CIA tapes that were destroyed in 2007? Most of them (90 of 92) were recordings of Zubaydah’s torture. which was so egregious that the CIA wanted to be sure nobody ever saw those tapes. The man was arrested without a weapon, he had never raised a hand to U.S. forces in any capacity and he was shot before being taken into illegal custody. His torture was planned by Bush Co. even before the torture memoranda were issued. The case of Abu Zubaydah reflects badly on Bush Co., and could be used to pursue war criminal charges against them. Even mentions of him in other prisoner’s cases were scrubbed. Right now his case is in limbo because no country will hear it. Not even us, who fashioned him into a terrorist.
3. Another terrorist attack is coming any second. Really. Be afraid.
The Department of Homeland Security was established on October 8, 2001. Three days later, it released the first warning of a terrorist attack “in the next several days.” Five months later, the color-coded alert system was unveiled “… to provide a comprehensive and effective means of disseminating information regarding the risk of terrorist acts to Federal, State, and local authorities and to the American people…” What it did was create a nervous populace, as the threat level never fell below yellow. The warnings — seven between its inception and the start of the war — were usually conflated by the administration as “immanent” or “inevitable.” The color-coded system was replaced by the National Terrorism Advisory System in 2011 in an effort to provide better information.
2. The probable length of the war, cost of the war, number of troops and casualties.
Remember those rosy predictions? Donald Rumsfeld said, “It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” Cheney said, “I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months“ The war lasted for 10 years. What would it cost? Mitch Daniels’ (Bush’s head of the Office of Management and Budget) estimate: “The administration’s top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion…” How much did it really cost? According to Business Insider, just the interest on the money we borrowed (yes, Bush borrowed it!) is $7 trillion as of fiscal 2013. Yes, TRILLION. Remember when Eric Shinseki was the Army’s chief of staff and he was asked how many troops we’d need for the war? He answered, “several hundred thousand soldiers.” Bush Co. didn’t want to hear it so they fired him. The war started with 116,000 troops. When asked about the possible number of casualties, Cheney replied, “I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators.” American troop casualties in Iraq number 4,488, while the number of direct deaths attributable to the war is 189,000. That’s not counting the hundreds of thousands indirect deaths. Want all the numbers? The Business Insider listed them last year.
1. “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends…and against us.”
Dick Cheney uttered those words at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in August of 2002. Between then and May of 2003, that lie was repeated again and again. From Generals to G.W. Bush, the lie about WMDs was a constant drone. Every one of them is cataloged here. Where did they get this information? Go back to the top of the list. That’s right, the guy made it all up was the only source of that “intel.” Don’t believe the reports of chemical weapons now in the hands of ISIS. While they did overrun the al-Muthanna mega-facility on June 19, what they found there is unusable. A CIA report on the facility states that:
“Two wars, sanctions and UN oversight reduced Iraqi’s premier production facility to a stockpile of old damaged and contaminated chemical munitions (sealed in bunkers), a wasteland full of destroyed chemical munitions, razed structures, and unusable war-ravaged facilities.
Some of the bunkers contained large quantities of unfilled chemical munitions, conventional munitions, one-ton shipping containers, old disabled production equipment and other hazardous industrial chemicals.”
While we should be concerned about the seizure of the site, the only people who would be in danger from these materials are the members of ISIS. If they try to move them or remove them for use, they would undoubtedly be contaminated, according to officials. So, no, this does not vindicate Bush Co.’s lies leading up to the Iraq War.
With the news that President Obama will send 300 military advisers to Iraq to provide security for our personnel and embassy in Baghdad, we should be vigilant. We’ve seen this movie before and it doesn’t end well. The last thing we need right now is the chattering of the neo-con war-mongers who lied us into a war that benefited nobody but they and their contractor pals.
If you need to be reminded further of exactly what they are up to now, this report is an excellent resource: The Neoconservative Influence On U.S. Foreign Policy And The 2003 Iraq War.
We won’t stand for this again.