Monday, August 21, 2006

A concerted campaign of deceit

Everyone remembers a statement here and a statement there made by president Bush and members of his administration regarding the threat Iraq supposedly posed to America before we invaded her. Thinking of these statements in isolation, it's easy to write them off as simple misstatements or misunderstandings. It's more difficult to call them outright lies.

However, congress's committee on government reform released a report called Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq. The report is a "comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq." It chronicles what clearly was a concerted campaign of deceit perpetrated by the administration against the American people to justify Bush's desire to invade Iraq.

Iraq on the Record identifies that five officials, president George Bush, vice president Richard Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of state Colin Powell, and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances. The report and an accompanying database identify 237 specific misleading statements by the five officials. They were all made in the year preceding the invasion and during a short period following it.

The campaign started on March 17, 2002, when Cheney said what we now know to be an outright lie: "We know they have biological and chemical weapons." The report documents the lies through January 22, 2004, when Cheney said, "there's overwhelming evidence that there
was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government."

Bush himself participated in the campaign. In fact, on October 7, 2002, three days before the congressional votes on the Iraqi war resolution, President Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, with eleven misleading statements, the most by any of the five officials in a single appearance. Bush's biggest whopper had to have been his statement in the January 28, 2003, State of the Union address that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

To grasp the scope of the campaign, Americans should read Iraq on the Record so they can get a real sense of the sheer volume of lies and deception. It lists not only the statements by Bush and Cheney, but also those by Powell, Rice and, of course, Rumsfeld -- probably the most forked-tongued member of the administration.

After that, America should juxtapose the report with the following dialogue between Bush and a Cox News reporter today:

BUSH: The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

QUESTION: What did Iraq have to do with it?

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with what?

QUESTION: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing, except it's part of -- and nobody has suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September 11th is take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody's ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.

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