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from the Daily Mis-lead
January 28, 2004

Facing mounting pressure over charges that the White House deliberately misled the American people about Iraq's WMD, President Bush is now claiming that U.N. weapons inspectors were not allowed into Iraq before the war. Yesterday, the pesident said, Iraq "chose defiance. It was [Saddam's] choice to make, and he did not let us in."

But U.N. weapons inspections led by Hans Blix began on November 27th, 2003, as noted by the State Department at the time. Over the course of the next five months, those inspections found "little more than 'debris'" from a WMD program that had long since been destroyed. The weapons inspectors were forced to leave when Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. President Bush then "refused to permit the U.N. inspectors to return to Iraq."

When asked about the issue yesterday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan claimed the entire WMD issue was unimportant because the Bush Administration had never said Iraq was a threat. He said, "the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'" to describe the Iraqi "threat" - not the Bush Administration.

But the record shows the Administration repeatedly said Iraq was an "imminent threat." On May 7th, less than a week after the president announced the end of major combat operations, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked, "Didn't we go to war because we said WMD were a direct and imminent threat to the U.S.?" He replied, "Absolutely." Similarly, in November 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, "I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" Most notably, Vice President Cheney said two days after President Bush's 2003 State of the Union that Saddam Hussein "threatens the United States of America."

Jan. 29, 2004

Faced with evidence that no WMD existed in Iraq before the war, President Bush is citing different rationales for going to war. He said this week that the war was justified because "the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein." The president's recent statements, however, are belied by what he's said in the past. A look at the historical record shows President Bush justified an invasion of Iraq by making unequivocal statements that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD that threatened all Americans, even claiming that inspectors had found WMD when they had not.

On November 23, 2002, President Bush said a war was justified because there was "an urgent threat posed by Iraq whose dictator has already used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands." In early January 2003, President Bush said, "The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. They not only have weapons of mass destruction, they used weapons of mass destruction...That's why I say Iraq is a threat, a real threat." And in his speech announcing the invasion, President Bush said the war was justified because Americans were "living at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." None of these assertions have since been substantiated.

The president and his advisers had been warned repeatedly in the fall of 2002 by the intelligence community, including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, that the WMD case was weak. However, ten days after the war began, Secretary Rumsfeld asserted the U.S had pinpointed the location of WMD, saying, "We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." Less than two months later, President Bush went on television to claim that WMD had been found, saying, "we found the weapons of mass destruction" - an assertion that was false. Asked a follow-up question, the president again contended they'd been found, saying, "For those who say we haven't found [them], they're wrong, we found them." The statement has not been repeated since by the Administration or supported by the Iraq Survey Group's months-long search for WMD.

Independent observers are speaking out about the administration's pre-war assertions on Iraq versus the reality that's emerging. The respected Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote that the administration "systematically misrepresented the threat" from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The Army War College called the war "unnecessary," and the President's own Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board believes the White House was so desperate "to grab onto something affirmative" to demonstrate Iraq's weapons that it ignored intelligence reports undermining that claim.

Watch MoveOn.org's new video for more on the president's misleading of America on Iraq.

Posted: January 31, 2004


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