Revolution #245, September 11, 2011
10 BIG LIES in the U.S. "War on Terror"
1 "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
—Vice President Dick Cheney,
No "weapons of mass destruction" were ever found in Iraq. An October 2004 CIA report concluded, "Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991" and found "no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production." An unnamed CIA official later said, "Bush didn't give a fuck about the intelligence. He had his mind made up [to go to war]."
2 "I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank."
—candidate Barack Obama, 2007
Obama expanded U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan and increased the number of bombing raids into Pakistan. As of June 2011, 46,000 U.S. troops occupied Iraq. Under Obama the U.S. has staged bombing raids on six countries. The number of open military bases outside the U.S. has grown to over 1,000. When Obama took office in January 2009 there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By December 2009—when this number had grown to 68,000—Obama announced an "Afghan surge" to add over 30,000 U.S. soldiers. Now Obama plans to withdraw the 33,000 "surge troops"—10,000 by the end of 2011 and the rest by the summer of 2012. This means by the end of 2012, there will still be 68,000 troops in Afghanistan—more than twice as many as the 32,000 when Obama took office.
3 "The idea of liberating women, empowering women, encouraging women, educating women in Afghanistan is all part of laying a foundation for lasting peace."
—President George W. Bush,
in an interview on Fox News
While women in Afghanistan living under the Taliban were treated horribly, the U.S. military occupation has in some ways worsened and created new conditions making women vulnerable to exploitation and degradation. In terms of impoverishment, homelessness, and lack of medical care, the situation of Afghan women has deteriorated under the U.S. occupation and the barbaric imposition of Islamic law on Afghan women remains largely unchallenged. August 2009: U.S.-backed Afghan president Karzai signed a law which, among other horrors, allows men to deny food and housing to their wives if the husbands' sexual demands are not met, and prohibits a woman from leaving her home without her husband's permission.
The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) reported in July 2011, "about 50 women die in childbirth each day in Afghanistan. One in three is physically or sexually abused and the average life expectancy of women is 44 ... more than 85 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70 percent of school-age girls do not attend school for various reasons—conservative parents, lack of security, or fear for their lives."
Speaking about Afghanistan in March 2011, a top Obama official said, "Gender issues are going to have to take a back seat to other priorities."
4 Jessica Lynch "was fighting to the death. She did not want to be taken alive."
—U.S. Army official to assembled media, March 2003
Lynch was part of a small Army convoy attacked by Iraqi resisters. The vehicle she was in overturned and she suffered broken bones, was knocked unconscious, and taken to a local hospital by some Iraqis. A doctor who examined her said, "It was a road traffic accident that caused her wounds. There was not a drop of blood.... There were no bullets or shrapnel or anything like that." At the hospital, he said, "She was given special care, more than the Iraqi patients."
Media reports claimed, "Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in a daring nighttime raid by U.S. commandos acting on a CIA tip." In fact, the U.S. raid on the hospital actually encountered no opposition. In June 2003, the Washington Post wrote: "This was the single most memorable story of the war, and it had huge propaganda value. It was false, but it didn't get knocked down until it didn't matter quite so much." As Lynch herself said later in 2003 about the hype surrounding her injuries, "It was not true."
5 "Torture is never acceptable, nor do we hand over people to countries that do torture."
—President George W. Bush,
New York Times interview,
January 28, 2005
"I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture."
—President-elect Barack Obama,
January 2009 press conference
It has been clearly documented that the U.S. has tortured many, many prisoners at Guantánamo, its Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and at the Bagram U.S. Air Base. The U.S. has captured and illegally held prisoners and then "rendered" them to dozens of countries to be tortured and interrogated under the direction of U.S. officials. Bush's Justice Department wrote memos sanctioning the use of torture. Under Bush and Obama, countless people have been tortured by the U.S. and at the direction of the United States. In 2010 Bush boasted, "Yeah, we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I'd do it again."
6 "The loss of Army Corporal Pat Tillman last week in Afghanistan brought home the sorrow that comes with every loss, and reminds us of the character of the men and women who serve on our behalf."
—President George W. Bush,
May 1, 2004
After 9-11, Tillman walked away from a multimillion-dollar professional football contract to join the U.S. Army. But Tillman increasingly questioned what the U.S. was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. He began expressing opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq and continued to be outspoken when he was sent to Afghanistan. In April 2004, Tillman was shot to death by U.S. soldiers in what is called "friendly fire." The circumstances of his death remain murky. In 2007 Associated Press reported that doctors who did an autopsy on Tillman said, "it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away" and that a criminal investigation was warranted. No such investigation ever happened and instead Tillman's death was used by Bush and Rumsfeld to promote the kind of mindless patriotism Tillman opposed.
7 "Under this compromise legislation... the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over."
—Senator Barack Obama,
June 19, 2008
In 2002 George W. Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States. By 2006 the NSA was collecting phone records of tens of millions of Americans. In 2008 Bush signed into law a bill that legalizes warrantless wiretapping.
Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator and presidential candidate, voted for the bill. Domestic spying has increased during Obama's presidency. The number of federal wiretaps doubled in 2010 from 2009; the Electronic Freedom Foundation said, "Obama has gone two steps further than Bush," and concluded, "essentially, the Obama Administration has claimed that the government cannot be held accountable for illegal surveillance under any federal statutes."
8 "This war in Iraq is a grotesque mistake."
—Democratic Party congressional leader Nancy Pelosi, June 2005
From the first votes in the U.S. Congress to approve the invasion of Iraq, which passed overwhelmingly, to today, when wars in three countries are being led by a Democratic president, the Democrats have, overwhelmingly and as a party, been in full support of the U.S. wars aimed at extending and defending the U.S. empire. Congressional Democrats have approved every military spending measure since 2002.
9 "Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy."
—candidate Barack Obama,
Habeas corpus is a judicial mandate in which a prisoner must be brought before a judge to determine whether he/she is legally imprisoned, and if not, released. In 2002 the Bush administration claimed sweeping new police state powers that effectively put an end to habeas corpus.
Hundreds of people seized by U.S. forces under any pretext in Afghanistan and other countries have been denied any right to judicial review. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling said prisoners taken by the U.S. and sent to Guantánamo have the right to a hearing. Bush circumvented this ruling, setting up "military tribunals"—after the pretense of a "legal hearing," prisoners are sent to dungeons other than Guantánamo. In February 2009, a month after Obama took office, his Department of Justice argued in court that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush's legal team.
10 "I can say that the types of operations... that the US has been involved in, in the counter-terrorism realm, that nearly for the past year there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop."
—John Brennan, Obama's
"counter-terrorism" advisor, on U.S. drone attacks
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that at least 2,992 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan. This is part of a larger war that has brought massive death and suffering to many people. A Johns Hopkins study published in the British medical journal the Lancet reported that by 2006 there were at least 600,000 deaths in Iraq as a result of the U.S. invasion and war. The number of dead civilians in Afghanistan is unknown, but more than 2.7 million Afghans are refugees. Wholesale and often random killings of civilians are part and parcel of the wars the U.S. is waging.
* * * * *
Readers: There's lots more... Write in and add to this list and we'll print and post them in a future issue.
It is not uncommon to hear these days, from government officials and others, that only 1 percent of the population is in the U.S. military but that this 1 percent is fighting for the freedom of the other 99 percent. The truth, however, is this: That 1 percent, in the military, is in reality fighting for the other 1 percent: the big capitalist-imperialists who run this country—who control the economy, the political system, the military, the media, and the other key institutions—and who dominate large parts of the world, wreaking havoc and causing great suffering for literally billions of people. It is the "freedom" of these capitalist-imperialists—their freedom to exploit, oppress, and plunder—that this 1 percent in the military is actually killing and sometimes dying for.
Sources for 10 Big Lies in the U.S. "War on Terror"
- No WMD's found in Iraq. "CIA's final report: No WMD found in Iraq," Associated Press, April 25, 2005.
Cheney quote. "Full text of Dick Cheney's speech," Guardian UK, August 27, 2002.
Quote from unnamed CIA official. "Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction," Sidney Blumenthal, Salon.com, September 6, 2007.
- Obama quote. "Obama Campaign Promise—October 27, 2007," YouTube
U.S. military bases abroad. Too Many Overseas Bases, David Vine, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 25, 2009.
U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. "Chart: U.S. troop levels over the years," CNN Afghanistan Crossroad blogs, June 22, 2011
- Bush quote. "For George W. Bush, Empowering Women in Afghanistan Lays a 'Foundation for a Lasting Peace'," Fox News, March 31, 2011.
Karzai and Islamic law, "Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Passes Controversial Law Limiting Women's Rights," Jim Sciutto, Bruno Roeber, and Nick Schifrin, ABC News, August 14, 2009
RAWA figures on conditions of women in Afghanistan, "AFGHANISTAN: The worst place to be a mother," RAWA News, July 12, 2011.
Quote from Obama official on gender issues, "In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women's rights as it eyes wider priorities," Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, March 14, 2011.
- Jessica Lynch quote. Frank Thorpe, History Commons, also includes basics of story.
- Bush interview. "Bush Says Iraqi Leaders Will Want U.S. Forces to Stay to Help," New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller, David E. Sanger , and Richard W. Stevenson, January 28, 2005.
Obama quote, "Obama names intel picks, vows no torture," Associated Press, January 9, 2009.
Documentation of torture. "WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released After the Tribunals, 2004 to 2005,"Andy Worthington, March 9, 2011. (Link is to Part One of five parts.)
- Bush quote on Tillman. "Bush's White House Correspondents' Dinner Speech," transcript of Bush's remarks, May 1, 2004.
Tillman's death and doctors. "Tillman's autopsy raised doctors' suspicions," Martha Mendoza, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 26, 2007.
- Obama quote. "Obama, McCain Reluctantly Endorse Surveillance Deal", John M. Broder, The Caucus—The Politics and Government blog of the New York Times, June 20, 2008.
Bush's 2002 wiretap law. "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts," James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, December 16, 2005.
Wiretaps double in 2010. "Federal Wiretaps Nearly Doubled Last Year," Andy Greenberg, Forbes, July 1, 2011.
"In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ's New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush's," Tim Jones, Electronic Freedom Foundation, April 7, 2009.
- Nancy Pelosi quote. "Pelosi: 'This War in Iraq Is a Grotesque Mistake; It is Not Making America Safer'," June 20, 2005 press release at pelosi.house.gov.
Democrats and war funding bills. "The Democrats' Support for Bush's War," Stephen Zunes. Foreign Policy in Focus, May 31, 2007.
- Obama quote. "Obama lauds Supreme Court ruling on Guantánamo captives; McCain has 'concerns'" Kate Zernike, New York Times, June 13, 2008.
Bush sets up military tribunals. "Military Tribunals," Constitutional Rights Foundation.
Obama upholds Bush policy. "Obama Upholds Detainee Policy in Afghanistan," Charlie Savage, New York Times, February 21, 2009.
- Brennan quote. "US claims of 'no civilian deaths' are untrue," Chris Woods, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 18, 2011.
"Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey," Gilbert Burnham MD, Riyadh Lafta MD, Shannon Doocy PhD, and Les Roberts PhD, The Lancet, October 12, 2006.
Casualties in drone strikes in Pakistan. "Drone War Exposed—the complete picture of CIA strikes in Pakistan," Chris Woods, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, August 10, 2011.
Afghanistan refugees. "Why Afghan returnees could become Taliban recruits," Teri Schultz, GlobalPost.com, June 20, 2011.
If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.