The Iraq War Truth Room
Popular video created by video artist Billy Vegas during Bush administration, with archival footage of Iraq War statements (some strong language)
Prelude to Iraq
In December of 2001, three months
after the 9/11 attacks,
the Saudi national deemed responsible for the attacks escaped from
Afghanistan into Pakistan on horseback with a small number of men.
The top CIA commander on the ground, Gary Berntsen, had urgently
requested 800 U.S. troops to block bin Laden's escape from the cave
complex at Tora Bora, but the request was denied.
Counter Terrorism Director Hank Crumpton asked General
Tommy Franks to send in reinforcements from the 1200 Marines who
were stationed 80 miles away, in Kandahar, but that request was also
denied. Osama bin Laden finally bribed the Northern
Alliance warlords charged with blocking his escape, whom Berntsen
had begged his superiors not to trust.
Both George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later repeated
Franks' claim that the U.S was not sure bin Laden was trapped at Tora
Bora. Both Bush and Cheney said in interviews: "We don't know if
bin Laden was at Tora Bora." But Berntsen's contradiction is
“I knew exactly
where he was” he told MSNBC
in 2005. He
told Newsweek: "He
was there." CIA
Gary Schroen, who was pulled out of retirement by the Bush
administration to lay the groundwork for the assault on the Taliban 2
days after 9/11, is
equally blunt in his concurrence with Berntsen, saying: "I have no doubt
that he [bin Laden] was there [in Tora Bora]."
Commander Schroen later also criticized the attack on Iraq. When asked on Meet the Press: "Do you believe that Iraq is a distraction, a preoccupation, and it is really limiting our ability to capture Osama bin Laden and secure Afghanistan?" -- Schroen answered :
"I absolutely do. Afghanistan gets a distant second on all aspects, whether it's going to be military or aid that's going to be given to the country. Afghanistan is--the elections were successful. There is a beginning of democracy there. It's very fragile. The--but I think the entire population wants peace."
In that interview, Schroen said "the attack on Iraq has caused, really,
a sort of insurgent rebirth. I mean, there are a lot of more
terrorists out there now."
In a 2008 60 Minutes report with "Dalton
Fury" (name disguised,) the commander of a Delta Force team with orders
to kill bin Laden, Fury told 60
Minutes that his men at one point had a firm fix on the cave in
which bin Laden was hiding, and that he had relayed to his
superiors an audacious plan to "get a drop on bin Laden from
behind." Fury's plan was to come over the top of the steep
"with oxygen" in order to take bin Laden's position by surprise, but he
says the plan was nixed. Fury stated: "Whether that was Central
Command all the way up to the president of the United States, I'm not
Fury then made a second request, to drop hundreds of landmines on the
leading to Pakistan, since reliable troops to seal the passages had
been denied. The request for landmines was also denied, and when
Fury said he had "no idea." When the 60 Minutes reporter asked Fury "How
often does Delta come up with a tactical plan that's disapproved by
higher headquarters?" -- Fury answered: "In my experience, in my five
years at Delta, never before." The next day, forced into a
difficult frontal assault on bin Laden's position, another remarkable
thing happened. As Fury began his assault, his Afghan allies drew
weapons on the American team and forced them into 12 hours of
negotiation at a critical moment. It was during this time that
Fury believes bin Laden made his escape.
The Tora Bora cave complex was well-known to both the Taliban and the CIA. During the Afghan war against the Russian occupation in the '80s, Tora Bora was a key stronghold, and the CIA helped map and reinforce the tunnel system. Soon after the NATO bombing campaign began, and the resultant rapid collapse of the Taliban regime, it was expected that bin Laden would retreat to Tora Bora. On November 10, 2001, as American bombs fell on the city, bin Laden gave his last public speech at the Institute for Islamis Studies in Jalalabad. Then his convoy of several hundred cars departed for Tora Bora.
videotape not released until 2006 shows bin Laden's party headed
toward Pakistan after the Battle of Tora Bora, or
already in Pakistan. Ismail Khan, now the governor of Herat
Province in Afghanistan and a key Northern Alliance warlord who
was involved in the pursuit of bin Laden, told Newsweek that he had
been restrained by the West from closing in on bin Laden, in order to
allow a different ethnic faction to take over the fight:
"we could have captured all the Taliban and the al-Qaeda groups. We could have arrested Osama bin Laden with all of his supporters."
One of Khan's men, Haji
Mohammed Zaman, told
the assembled press at Tora Bora in 2001: "If America wants
to capture Osama, why aren't they trying?" A top aide to Zaman said: "I
don't think the United States wants to capture Osama. We know where he
is, we tell them and they do nothing. So they are not as serious as
they say they are."
Two months later, George Bush decided to
pull most of the special ops troops out of Afghanistan, in order to
prepare for war in
Iraq. Flynt L. Leverett, an
expert on the Middle East at the National Security Council, told
the Washington Post:
"I was appalled when I learned about it. I don't know of anyone who thought it was a good idea. It's very likely that bin Laden would be dead or in American custody if we hadn't done that."
Bin Laden was left to reconstitute his
forces, which would have a devastating effect in Afghanistan and in the
region years later. Soon, according to administration insiders,
the policy became to link Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein with 9/11, in order to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Richard Clarke, the Bush administration's chief of
counter-terrorism, said that Bush "in a
way left us -- me and my staff -- with
the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word that
there was an Iraqi hand behind 9/11."
David J. Dunford, a
specialist for the State Department who was put in charge of the Iraq
Foreign Ministry after the invasion, said that "you could feel
there was a drive to go to war no
matter what the facts."
INFORMATION: ON ROLE OF PAKISTAN
with Iraq in the '80s
U.S. had allied itself with Saddam in the Eighties with full
knowledge of his use of
chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq War, an eight year conflict in which
nearly a half-million Iranians and Iraqis died.
Washington sided with Iraq as a
counter-balance to Iran after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, when
anti-American sentiment in the Middle East was on the rise.
For nearly 30 years the U.S. government had supported
the Shah of Iran, and it supported royal
families in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, UAE and other
countries. These governments were hated by radical Islamists for
keeping their people in poverty, even as the elites enriched
themselves and kept oil prices down for the West.
Saddam was a secular pro-western
dictator who was a natural enemy of Iran. When Saddam attacked
the new theocracy with the encouragement and assistance of the U.S.,
it was decided by President Reagan that the U.S. "would do whatever was
necessary to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran." Iran had its
roots in the proud Persian Empire, was culturally
distinct from the Arab nations, and spoke an entirely different
language, Farsi. Among the American policymakers who had engaged
Saddam during the
Reagan administration was George W. Bush's first Secretary of Defense,
Although the U.S. had allied with Saddam with full knowledge of the
dictator's possession and use of chemical and biochemical weapons in
the war with Iran,
was soon to be recast
as the villian extraordinaire whom the world could not tolerate.
Rumsfeld, now a leading advocate of "regime change" in Iraq, was
Reagan's special envoy to the Middle East during the time of warm U.S.
relations with Saddam. Then, during the 90's, Rumsfeld became a
founding member of the think tank Project
for a New American Century, which argued for an American policy of
military force against Iraq, but which stated in a key 2000
document entitled "Rebuilding
America's Defenses" that, "absent a new
Pearl Harbor," it would be difficult to generate public support for
this goal. Other members of The
Project for a New American Century who joined the Bush administration
after the 2000 election were Vice President Dick Cheney, Richard
Armitage (Deputy Secretary of State,) I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (Chief
of Staff to the Vice President,) Richard Perle (Chairman of the Board,
Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee,) and Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy
Secretary of Defense.) On September 11, 2001, a "new
Pearl Harbor" took place.
issues in American
political discourse have generated as much heated and sustained
controvery as the reasons the Bush administration gave for invading and
occupying Iraq, or its motivations for doing so.
The arguments the Bush administration gave to justify the
invasion included Saddam's alleged capacity and intention to
attack western targets, including the U.S., with
chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, called "weapons of
According to CIA
reports and the Iraq Survey Group, Saddam believed that chemical and
biological weapons had saved his regime a number of times. In
Iran-Iraq War, nerve gas of the kind used in World War I broke the
"human wave" attacks of the numerically superior Iranians. During
first Gulf War in 1991, Saddam believed that it was the West's belief
that he had WMD which prevented NATO from driving all the way to
Baghdad, rather than contenting itself with ejecting him from Kuwait,
which he claimed was "slant
drilling" his oil on the Iraq-Kuwait border.
There is little to
argue in the contention that Saddam, at least before the First Gulf
War, possessed programs to deveop chemical, biological, and perhaps
weapons, especially as during the 80's the U.S. knew and looked the
other way as he used some of them. Many
countries have, or are suspected of possessing WMD. The questions
for national security are:
China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, U.S., Yugoslavia
indications, from the testimony of WMD inspectors before the war and,
of course, from the failure to find major weapons caches or
material since the American invasion, are that Saddam had destroyed his
weapons programs after the first Gulf War. Ironically, it may
have been Saddam's paranoia and belief in WMD as a deterrent which
caused him to play cat-and-mouse during the 12-year inspection
regime. If the United States believed he had some sort of WMD
capacity, it would be less likely to attack. Apart from a number
of highly-degraded sarin shells dating from before the first Gulf War,
and about 500 tons of uranium yellowcake which Saddam had already
weapons inspectors and which was under UN guard, no active weapons
programs or weapons-grade material were found. Brig.
Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the top military spokeman in Iraq when a sarin
shell was found in an IED and detonated by a munitions team, said the
insurgents did not know it was a sarin shell,and that it was
"virtually ineffective as a chemical weapon."
his presentation before the UN on March 7, 2003, on the eve of war,
chief UN weapons inspector Hans
Blix reported that "at this juncture we are
able to perform
professional, no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase
aerial surveillance." Blix said "after a period of somewhat
reluctant cooperation there's been an acceleration of initiatives from
the Iraqi side" which "can be
even proactive." Finally, Blix reported that in a matter of
"months" he could "resolve the key remaining
tasks," and that a "sustained inspection and monitoring system is
to remain in place
after verified disarmament to give confidence and to strike an alarm if
signs were seen of the revival of any proscribed weapons
Watching his main
rationale for war melt away, this is when George Bush changed his
requirement for the avoidance of war. Previously, he said
that Saddam must merely give up his weapons of mass destruction, and
that "If he [Hussein]
were to meet all the conditions of the United Nations, that in itself
will signal that the regime has changed." But on March 17, 2003, three days before war, Bush said that only
Saddam's departure would avoid war, that "Saddam Hussein and
his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will
result in military conflict."
In 2008, Bush would claim on national television and without being
challenged by ABC's
Charles Gibson that he had to attack Iraq because "Saddam
Hussein was unwilling to let the inspectors go in to determine whether
or not the U.N. resolutions were being upheld."
. He said this despite the fact that Saddam had actually
invited UN weapons inspectors back into the country in November of
2007, the same inspectors Bush
ordered to leave Iraq on March 17, 2003, in order to
begin the bombardment.
of the people in the very bottom of their
hearts tend to be corrupted rather than consciously and purposely evil,
and that, therefore, in view of the primitive simplicity of their minds
they more easily fall a victim to a big lie than to a little one,
since they themselves lie in little things, but would be ashamed of
lies that were too big. Such a falsehood will never enter their heads
and they will not be able to believe in the possibility of such
monstrous effrontery and infamous misrepresentation in others; yes,
even when enlightened on the subject, they will long doubt and waver,
and continue to accept at least one of these causes as true. Therefore,
something of even the most insolent
lie will always remain and stick — a fact which all the great
lie-virtuosi and lying-clubs in this world know only too well and also
make the most treacherous use of.
- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
Naturally the common people don't want war...But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along...That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
- Hermann Goering
The Bush Impeachment
Museum is dedicated to rationale discourse in American politics, and a
belief that the truth must eventually emerge no matter how long
it has been distorted and abused. The Museum invites public
commentary on any of its exhibits, and in many exhibits, offers online
discussion forums. Mere ad
hominen attacks will be
allowed to stand, in the interest of free speech, but will be used as
instruction on this weakest, and cheapest form of rebuttal.
Democracy, in the end, depends on the ability of a
population to think clearly and critically. As for a verdict, that is something only History can return.
"I am reminded of George Orwell's reference to the streamlined men who think in slogans and talk in bullets."
- Dr. Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate 2006
"I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think."
(UNDER CONSTRUCTION, FEEDBACK,
AND CONTRIBUTION SUBMISSIONS WELCOME! )
Frequently-Cited Justifications for the Iraq War (click for debunk and/or full context)
Congress Was Looking at the Same Intelligence Before it Voted for War
This is an argument frequently used by defenders of the Bush administration against charges that the Iraq War was started on false pretenses. The argument was critical. If it is true, then the decision to make war, even if it was a flawed decision, was made in a democratic context in accordance with one of the Constitution's most clearly-stated principles: that the power to declare war is an exclusive power of Congress. If Congress did not see the same intelligence, then it was possible that the crime of lying to Congress, over a matter of the gravest of consequence, had been committed.
Historical research and scholarship are
ongoing, but the record shows that the intelligence viewed by the Bush
administration on the eve of war, and the version of that intelligence
that the administration gave to Congress, were not the same.
of Discredited Evidence on WMD
adminstration has never denied that some evidence it presented to
make the case for war had been known by the administration to be highly
unreliable or flatly false at the time. Among this:
be forgeries which were used to prove that Saddam was trying to
obtain uranium from Niger
to build nuclear weapons. Based on these forgeries, Condaleeza
September 8, 2002, told CNN: "There will always be some uncertainty
about how quickly [Saddam] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't
want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Bush, Cheney, and
Rumsfeld then began repeating this line in speeches across the
country. The Niger documents did not even have national emblem
drawn correctly. Not only were the documents forgeries, they were
discredited informant with ties to the exiled Iraqi National
Congress leader Mohammed Chalabi, code-named "Curveball," was used to
support Colin Powell's famous claim in a UN speech that Saddam had
bio-weapons laboratories. Curveball claimed he was at one of the
laboratories at the time of an accident which killed a number of
workers. But U.S.
intelligence, and the Bush administration knew he
was in Virginia and Florida during that time from cellphone records and
a bank ATM photo.
2002 National Intelligence Estimate vs, The "White Paper" on Saddam's
The 2002 National
Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was the
key document given by the U.S. intelligence community to the
Bush administration, to ascertain the threat posed by
Saddam Hussein on the eve of the vote on the Iraq War Resolution.
In a summary section entitled "Key Judgements,"
the report stated two
key conclusions. The conclusions were:
In the 2002 NIE
which was given to Congress, days before the vote,
the first conclusion, that Saddam likely possessed WMD, was rendered in
detail. The second key
conclusion, that Saddam would not use these weapons out of fear of the
consequences, was deleted.
Version of 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) the administration was looking at, words on page 8 which were deleted from version given to Congress (PDF)
"White Paper," Version of 2002 NIE given to Congress days before the vote on the Iraq War Resolution (PDF)
While George Bush was painting a picture of Saddam as a "madman"
who cared little for even his own safety, a jihadi ready to blow
himself up and the world along with him, U.S. intelligence considered
Saddam a conventional dictator with a strong survival instinct and a
"fear" that using WMD against the U.S., or giving them to someone who
would, would seal his fate. The considered opinion of U.S.
intelligence that Saddam was "drawing a line short of conducting
terrorist attacks...fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would
provide Washington a stronger case for making war" was completely
the report given to Congress, and replaced in public utterances
by the conclusion that an attack could come at any moment:
In addition to the alteration of the 2002 NIE, many former administration officials directly responsible for U.S. intelligence-gathering have stepped forward to say that the administration placed enormous pressure on intelligence agencies to find evidence, however flimsy, which would justify a decision to go to war. These officials included Paul Pillar, John Brennan, Richard Kerr, and Richard Clarke (see WHISTLEBLOWERS.)
Iraq and 9/11
The Iraq War Resolution from Congress which
granted the president the authorization to use force against Iraq was
conditional upon the president certifying, in writing, that an attack
on Iraq was "consistent" with "necessary actions against international
terrorist[s]" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided the
terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." This
condition was required in the section entitled "Presidential
Determination" of the Iraq War Resolution. Bush made this link
between Iraq and 9/11, in writing, in a letter to Congress dated March
Bush publicly denied that
anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Condition in the Iraq War Resolution requiring that the president certify, in writing, that attacking Iraq was "consistent" with "necessary actions against international terrorist[s]" who "planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacksthat occurred on September 11, 2001."
President's letter to Congress certifying that Iraq was linked with those who "planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacksthat occurred on September 11, 2001."
In addition to the link between Saddam and 9/11, made in writing to Congress, further links made between Iraq, Saddam, and 9/11 were made repeatedly throughout the year preceding the war vote:
hides, Saddam doesn't, but the danger is, is that they work in concert.
The danger is, is that al Qaeda
becomes an extension of Saddam's
madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass
destruction around the world. - Bush, September 25, 2002
- "We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade," "Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases," - Bush in a speech to the nation on October 7, 2002, days before the vote on the Iraq War Resolution.
-"We know he's got ties with Al Qaeda," - Bush on November 1, 2002.
In 2006, after it became clear that Saddam
and bin Laden actually hated each other, as Saddam was a secular
modernist in whose country women were educated and became doctors, and
bin Laden was a transnational fundamentalist who could become a threat
to Saddam's regime, George Bush finally admitted that Iraq was not
"responsible" for 9/11. Pressure mounted on the administration to
claims that Al Qaeda and Saddam were working "in concert," and that Al
an "extension" of Saddam. The report from the 9/11
Commission found no relation,
and neither did the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence whose final report was issued in 2005.
2006 Bush said in a speech:
am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not
responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The answer is that the regime of
Saddam Hussein was a clear threat. My administration, the Congress, and
the United Nations saw the threat - and after 9/11, Saddam's regime
posed a risk that the world could not afford to take."
EXHIBIT (UNDER CONSTRUCTION, FEEDBACK,
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Deputy Executive Director, CIA, 2001-2003: "Some of the neocons that you refer to were determined to make sure that the intelligence was going to support the ultimate decision. Looking back on it now, as we put pieces together, it probably is apparent to some, including Paul, that it was much more politicized than in fact we realized. It wasn't a secret, though, at that time that there were certain people who were strong advocates of going to war, almost irrespective of what the intelligence was."
David J. Dunford
Middle East specialist for the State Department who was put in charge of the Iraq Foreign Ministry right after the invasion, said that prewar in the Bush administration, "you could feel there was a drive to go to war no matter what the facts."
A former deputy director of the CIA, said that in 2003 there was significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the [Bush] administration's "hammering" on Iraq intelligence was harder than any he had seen in his thirty-two years at the agency.
In an article in the journal Foreign Affairs on February 10, 2006, retired CIA agent Paul Pillar, who oversaw CIA intelligence assessments about Iraq from 2000 to 2005, said "Intelligence was misused publicly [i.e., to the American public] to justify decisions that had already been made." He wrote that as a result of political pressure, CIA analysts began to "sugarcoat" their conclusions regarding the threat posed by Iraqi weapons and about ties between Hussein and Al Qaeda.
Reader-Companion to Vincent Bugliosi's book "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder"
The 16 U.S.
intelligence agencies which collaborate to arrive at the National
Intelligence Estimate are: