Revolutionary Worker #1204, June 22, 2003, posted at rwor.org
The U.S. and British governments set out last summer to conquer Iraq. All during their war buildup, they said this war would protect the world. The warmakers insisted they knew Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) and ties with notorious terrorists--and so (they said) Iraq had to be invaded, and there had to be a regime change.
Now, two long months after the war, the U.S. government has found zero evidence of any "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. Not a barrel, not a bottle, not a plant, not a shell--nothing. And they have found no evidence of ties to al-Qaida-type terrorists.
This is very disturbing to many people--including many of the people who believed President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, and who ended up supporting the war because they believed Iraq was a danger. Instead what they got was the U.S. using its modern weapons of war--to conquer and dominate a third world country and kill thousands of people.
A whole country now lives under military occupation--with broken power plants, contaminated water and looted museums. And the questions keep mounting:
Where are all the battle-ready chemical and biological weapons that the U.S. and Britain said Iraq had?
Was all the so-called intelligence somehow mistaken? Or did the warmakers simply lie, and claim there was global danger when there was none?
If they lied, if WMD were a fake reason for the invasion, what was the real reason?
If the U.S. government and president lied about something so important, what else are they lying about?
And finally, who can believe them about anything in the future?
The "missing WMD" has caused finger-pointing throughout the British and American governments. The infighting causes secrets to leak into view. Various government spy agencies want to prove that they were not lying about WMD.
From their leaks we can see that, long before the war, analysts within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) were secretly reporting that they had no real evidence of Iraqi WMD. So the heads of the U.S. and British governments knew all along there was no evidence, and were lying when they said they had some.
This is what we will explore in Part 3 of our series.
The U.S. government may announce, some day, that they found WMD in Iraq. But even if someone claims to find traces of banned germs or chemicals, it now seems clear that Iraq's military did not have nuclear weapons, scud missiles or any battle-ready WMD. The U.S. government lied to the world when they said they had hard secret evidence of special urgent danger coming from Iraq.
And, if the U.S. government someday announces it has found something in Iraq, after all this time and after all this lying, who will believe them?
What the Government Claimed to the World
Vice President Dick Cheney, launching the U.S. government's public push for war with Iraq, Aug. 26, 2002: "Simply stated, there's no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002: "Saddam Hussein is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments into Iraq of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to nuclear weapons programs."
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 19, 2002, said that Iraq has "amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, and mustard gas."
British government report claimed Saddam Hussein "has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within forty-five minutes." (Sept. 2002)
Bush said, Sept. 28, 2002: "The danger to our country is grave and growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes."
As Congress was debating war powers, the National Intelligence Council published a briefing document given to Congress. This "National Intelligence Estimate" said (Oct. 4, 2002): "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons... including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin and VX...Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.''
George Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, said Iraq "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons." Asked about the evidence, spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The president's description of the complete picture resulted from an interagency process in which every statement was vetted and approved by each agency."
George Bush, Jan. 7, 2003: "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent ... upward of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents...materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin."
Secretary of State Colin Powell at UN, Feb. 5, 2003: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent... My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."
On March 17, Bush delivered his war ultimatum to Iraq and said: "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."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 18, said any suggestion that Iraq had already destroyed its weapons were "palpably absurd."
On March 30, in the first week of the war, Donald Rumsfeld said: "We know where [the WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." (Interpress Service, June 3, 2003)
The Facts Now Show:
Washington Post, June 7, 2003: "During the weeks last fall before critical votes in Congress and the United Nations on going to war in Iraq, senior administration officials, including President Bush, expressed certainty in public that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, even though U.S. intelligence agencies were reporting they had no direct evidence that such weapons existed."
In September 2002, as the war buildup campaign started, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) produced a report called "Iraq: Key Weapons Facilities--An Operational Support Study."
It said: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has--or will--establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities." (From summary page leaked to Bloomberg News, June 6, 2003.)
When U.S. officials claimed aluminum tubes were proof of Iraq's nuclear program, one Department of Energy expert said: "There is not much support for that theory around here." Another said: "The administration can say what it wants and we are expected to remain silent." (Guardian Oct. 9, 2002)
Vice President Cheney pressured the CIA to agree Iraq had WMD, while Rumsfeld created a special Pentagon unit to invent "links" between Iraq and al-Qaida.
Washington Post, June 6, 2003: "Multiple visits to the CIA by Vice-President Dick Cheney created an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments on Iraq fit with Bush administration policy objectives, intelligence officials said... The visits `sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here,' one agency official said."
NYT June 5, 2003: "Douglas J. Feith, the undersecretary of defense for policy, acknowledged that he created a small intelligence team inside his office shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to search for terrorist links with Iraq and other countries that he suggested the nation's spy agencies may have overlooked.... Among the team's most prominent findings were suspected linkages between Iraq and Al Qaeda, a conclusion doubted by the CIA and DIA."
Guardian, June 10, 2003: "The debunking of the Bush administration's pre- war certainties on Iraq gathered pace yesterday when it emerged that the CIA knew for months that a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida was highly unlikely."
Captured al-Qaida leaders, like Abu Zubaydah, all said they had no ties to Iraq's government. The Guardian reports: "While the CIA shared its interrogation record of Zubaydah with other intelligence agencies, it did not release its conclusions to the public."
The "National Intelligence Estimate" made public on Oct. 4, 2002, misrepresented the actual CIA conclusion. That "Estimate" said: " Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons." Washington Post now reports (June 7, 2003): "Throughout the run-up to war, according to senior intelligence officials, intelligence agencies had no direct evidence such as photographs or stolen Iraqi documents to support a firm conclusion about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
Retired CIA analysts calling themselves "Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity" wrote in an open letter: "The preponderant view, then as now, among nuclear scientists and engineers of the Intelligence Community and the Department of Energy's national laboratories is that Iraq...had no nuclear program worthy of the name."
In Britain, it is reported that MI6 (the British CIA) opposed publishing the "September dossier" which claimed Iraq's military could "deploy chemical weapons within 45 minutes." (Guardian, May 30, 2003)
What Others Were Saying at the Time
The evidence that the U.S. government was lying was available but rarely made it into the mainstream U.S. press before the war.
Guardian, Oct. 25: "Donald Rumsfeld, the hawkish American Defense Secretary, has assembled a team of experts to scour intelligence data for links between Iraq and al-Qaida... Officials in the intelligence establishment said the team was part of an effort by Mr. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to force the facts to fit their version of reality, according to which Saddam Hussein is working closely with terrorists and poses a serious threat to the U.S."
Revolutionary Worker, Nov. 10, 2002: "An aide to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recalls that within hours after a plane crashed into the Pentagon, Rumsfeld told him to start preparing war with Iraq. No one in the world has seen any evidence that Iraq has links to al-Qaida or was involved in any way in the September 11 events--though that doesn't stop prominent figures in the U.S. government from repeatedly claiming they have some.... there is no evidence that Iraq has any fissionable material at all to make a bomb with.... The White House claims that the U.S. is vulnerable and Iraq is threatening--but it has a very hard time making the case. The facts are clearly the other way around."
Revolutionary Worker, after Powell's speech to the UN, Feb. 16, 2003: "To frighten people in the U.S., Powell has to paint a picture of Iraq threatening the American `homeland.' ...Iraq (unlike General Powell) does not have any means of bombing a country halfway around the world. So to create fear of `threat,' Powell must suggest that Iraq may give biological poisons to al-Qaida operatives to deliver in some U.S. city. The problem is that there is no evidence of such `links'... So Powell must invent evidence for the `missing links.' This speech was a smokescreen--not a `smoking gun'--it was designed to hide the real reasons and motive of this war. Nothing in Powell's disinformation was believable, and even if some of it were true, it would not justify the massive war crime about to pound down on Iraq's people...As the U.S. government ruthlessly prepares to start this war, people need to cut through this smoke, and expose the lies that portray this imperialist conquest as a way to make people safer."
Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, says he knew before the war that the U.S. claims were false (BBC News, May 24): "We went to a great many sites that were given to us by intelligence, and only in three cases did we find anything--and they did not relate to weapons of mass destruction. That shook me a bit, I must say...because we had been told that they would give the best intelligence they had, so I thought: `My God, if this is the best intelligence they had and we find nothing, what about the rest?' "
The Iraqi government itself insisted that it had no weapons of mass destruction. And this, apparently, continues to be claimed after the war by Iraqi scientists and officials who are interrogated by the U.S. invaders.
What the Facts Now Show:
Lieut. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, May 30, 2003: "It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered [chemical and biological] weapons... Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwait border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there."
AP, June 9, 2003: "U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties... The slowdown comes after checks of more than 230 sites."
What the GovernmentsNow Claim
Method #1: Deny the Lies
Prime Minister Blair: "The idea that we authorized or made our intelligence agencies invent some piece of evidence is completely absurd." (Washington Post, May 31, 2003)
CIA Director George Tenet, May 30, 2002: "The integrity of our process was maintained throughout, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong.'' (AP, June 7, 2003)
Colin Powell on Fox news: "More evidence and more proof will come forward as we go down this road."
Dick Gephardt, Democratic candidate for president: "There is long, consistent, clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And I'm still convinced that we are going to find them."
Method #2: Switch Terminology
George Bush, June 9, 2003: "Intelligence throughout the decade shows they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced that with time, we'll find out they did have a weapons program."(AP)
Suddenly Bush is not talking about finding weapons --but something very different "a weapons program ." A "weapons program" merely means that a government could potentially build a weapon--that they have experts, materials, and dual use facilities. There is a world of dishonesty between charging Iraq with having specific weapons and charging Iraq with having the potential to build some weapons (which almost any country with a modern chemical and pharmaceutical industry has).
The change in terminology is appearing elsewhere: On May 28, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that two trailers were discovered in the north of Iraq and declared, "It is very important to recognize that programs that we had said existed do exist; that the kind of equipment that we had said existed."
Method #3: Say it doesn't matter
On May 27, Donald Rumsfeld said that the Iraqi government "may have had time to destroy them" before the war. He said this casually as if the whole issue doesn't matter.
In Britain, Rumsfeld's remarks were a bombshell. Robin Cook, a leader of the House of Commons, said Rumsfeld had blown "an enormous gaping hole through the case for war that was made on both sides of the Atlantic."
In the U.S., Rummy's views were quickly parroted. International Herald Tribune, June 9, 2003: "The latest vogue in Washington is the proposition that it really doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein maintained an arsenal of unconventional weapons in recent years."
Senator John McCain: "The American people support what the president did, whether we find those weapons or not." (NYT, June 4, 2003)
Senator Pete Domenici: "For those kind of experts to say that has changed the dynamics in the Middle East... seems to me to outweigh all the questions about did we have every bit of evidence that we say we had or not." (NYT, June 4, 2003)
In a Vanity Fair interview, Paul Wolfowitz said it was only "bureaucratic reasons" that led the U.S. government to talk about Iraq's arsenal, and said other reasons for war were important if not often discussed.
Method #4: Claim they already found them
George Bush came up with the slickest move of all--simply claim the WMD were already found.
In the end of May, he said: "You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two.... for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."
When two trailers were found, "experts" were rushed there, and under great pressured declared they were "mobile weapons labs." "Everyone has wanted to find the `smoking gun' so much that they may have wanted to have reached this conclusion," one intelligence expert told the NYT .
The trailers had no signs of biological weaponry. The British Observer reported they were sold by Britain to Iraq's military in 1987 to produce hydrogen gas for weather balloons on artillery ranges. The New York Times (June 7, 2003) documented that Iraqi scientists all identified the trailers as hydrogen producers. A number of experts told the NYT the trailers could not possible produce germ weapons. "It is not built and designed as a standard fermenter," said one. "Certainly, if you modify it enough you could use it. But that's true of any tin can." They pointed out that the trailers lacked essential equipment for sterilizing, growing and drying bacteria, without which no weapons materials could have been produced.
In short, the talk of "mobile weapons lab" are just more lies.
The Liar Next Time
John Dean, the Nixon aide who did prison time for covering up Watergate lies, now says: "In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison...To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be `a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause."
New York Times, June 8, 2003: "If such weapons are not found, some historians, politicians and others worry about what might happen if Mr. Bush or a successor tried to rally American or international backing for another war--say, with Iran or North Korea--using disputed evidence to buttress the case... What if, after a long and unsuccessful occupation, with American combat casualties taking a toll on the national psyche, the question `Why are we in Iraq?' becomes the modern equivalent of `Why are we in Vietnam?'
[Parts 1 and 2 of this series are available on rwor.org/resistance.]
Revolutionary Worker, Nov. 10, 2002: "No one in the world has seen any evidence that Iraq has links to al-Qaida or was involved in any way in the September 11 events--though that doesn't stop prominent figures in the U.S. government from repeatedly claiming they have some.... The White House claims that the U.S. is vulnerable and Iraq is threatening--but it has a very hard time making the case. The facts are clearly the other way around."
Revolutionary Worker after Powell's speech to the UN, (Feb. 16, 2003): "...Iraq (unlike General Powell) does not have any means of bombing a country halfway around the world. So to create fear of `threat,' Powell must suggest that Iraq may give biological poisons to al-Qaida operatives to deliver in some U.S. city. The problem is that there is no evidence of such `links'... So Powell must invent evidence for the `missing links.' This speech was a smokescreen--not a `smoking gun'--it was designed to hide the real reasons and motive of this war. Nothing in Powell's disinformation was believable... As the U.S. government ruthlessly prepares to start this war, people need to cut through this smoke, and expose the lies that portray this imperialist conquest as a way to make people safer."
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
Write: Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 773-227-4066 Fax: 773-227-4497