More Proof: Iraq Invasion Sold With LIES—Not “Bad Intel”

February 1, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


In March 2003, the U.S. launched an invasion of Iraq, followed by eight-and-a-half years of war and occupation, leading to huge horrors: more than one million Iraqis dead, 4.5 million displaced from their homes, and the strengthening of reactionary Islamic fundamentalism, including ISIS. Top figures of the U.S. government—from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to key cabinet, military, and intelligence officials—had justified the invasion as necessary to stop Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime and its “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD)—nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Even after the whole world saw, soon after the U.S. invasion, that Iraq in fact had no WMD, the official story from many ruling class voices has been that there was an “intelligence failure” that accounts for the glaring contrast between the claims and the reality about Iraqi WMD, or that they were “misled” into supporting the invasion.

Now, a secret U.S. intelligence document from a few months before the Iraq invasion has been revealed, shedding even more light on the fact that this was not a case of an “intelligence failure.” Bush officials deliberately lied to pave the way for war—with major media deeply complicit in this campaign and top Democrats also taking part in the deceit.

In September 2002, Rumsfeld sent a memo to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS, high-level officers from the U.S. military who advise the Secretary of Defense), saying, “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD [in Iraq]. It is big.” Rumsfeld was referring to a report from the Joint Chiefs’ director of intelligence, which basically said there was little actual evidence about Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMD. The JCS report said, for example, “Our assessments rely heavily on analytic assumption and judgment rather than hard evidence. The evidentiary base is particularly sparse for Iraqi nuclear programs.”

The report had a similar conclusion about chemical weapons, saying that the Iraqis “lack the precursors for sustained nerve agent production” and “we cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi sites that produce final chemical agent.” And about biological weapons: “We cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi facilities that produce, test, fill, or store biological weapons.”

Just a month before the JCS intelligence report, Cheney had declared, “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” Did the lack of evidence discussed in the JCS report cause the Bush regime to slow down or back away from their campaign for war on Iraq based on alleged WMD? From looking at what actually happened, it’s clear they did the opposite.

Just a month after Rumsfeld’s note to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Bush declared publicly that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

The mainstream media was mobilized to play their part. A major front-page article by Judith Miller in the New York Times on Sunday, September 8—three days after Rumsfeld’s memo—was headlined “U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts” and warned of “Iraq’s push to improve and expand Baghdad’s chemical and biological arsenals,” which “have brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war.” The Times piece cited “anonymous” Bush administration officials and defectors from the Saddam Hussein regime as sources. This was a blatant example of how the media under this system works: top government officials provide the “spin” they want out in the public, and their propaganda instruments—posing as “objective” media—report this as “news.”

Following the Times front-page piece, top Bush officials—Cheney, Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice—appeared on the major TV network Sunday news shows to talk up the Iraq WMD “threat.” Rice cited the Times story to issue an ominous warning: “The first sign of a ‘smoking gun’ [for Iraqi WMD] ... may be a mushroom cloud.”

In February 2003, shortly before the invasion, Colin Powell appeared at the UN to declare, “The facts and Iraq’s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.” He held up a fake vial of poison anthrax to dramatize the U.S. claims about Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons and waved around documents he said contained “proof” of Iraq’s WMD programs.

Top leaders of the Democratic Party were part of pushing the WMD hype. Hillary Clinton, for one, claimed, “If left unchecked Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capability to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

Based on the WMD lies—and other outright lies, like the claim that Saddam Hussein was linked with the 9/11 attacks—the U.S. invaded Iraq, starting with the massive “Shock and Awe” bombing that terrorized Baghdad, a city of seven million people. The U.S. overthrew the Hussein regime—and then occupied the country for the next eight-and-a-half years.

The newly revealed document shows the U.S. intelligence actually pointed to the real situation—that Saddam Hussein had no WMD. But the U.S. rulers went ahead with the war, driven by the aims and needs of their empire. In the years before the September 11, 2001 attacks, powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class were pushing for major moves internationally in response to rising challenges to the empire: to defeat anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalist forces, overthrow states (like Iraq’s Hussein regime) not fully under U.S. control, and restructure the entire Middle East/Central Asia regions in line with U.S. imperialist interests. The key figures in the Bush regime saw the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to jump start the plans for a greater empire. Just hours after the hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld told aides, “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related [to the attacks] and not.” Afghanistan was the first target in this war for empire. But they already had Iraq in their crosshairs—and facts that ran counter to their WMD justification were not going to deter their agenda.

The reality that the U.S. imperialists have run into big problems with their plans for the region does not make the 2003 invasion any less immoral and criminal. And the lies behind the Iraq War are part of a whole history of U.S. lies to justify wars and military interventions, from the early days of the empire continuing to today.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need