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from The Daily Mislead
February 5, 2004

In a stunning blow to the president's credibility, CIA Director George Tenet said this morning that intelligence "analysts never said there was an imminent threat" from Iraq before the war. His comments are consistent with various warnings sent to the White House from the intelligence community that specifically told the president his claims that Iraq definitely had chemical/biological and nuclear weapons were unsubstantiated. Tenet's comments call into question whether the Bush Administration was knowingly ignoring intelligence and misleading the country by claiming definitively that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was therefore an "imminent," "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal" threat to the American people.

Though the White House has claimed it never said Iraq was an imminent threat, the record proves otherwise. When White House communications director Dan Bartlett was asked before the war whether Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, he responded, "Of course he is." When White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked why NATO (and thus the United States) should support Turkey's request for defensive troops, he responded, "This is about an imminent threat." When White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether the invasion of Iraq was because Iraq was an imminent threat, he responded, "Absolutely."

The president also used other language aimed at misleading Americans into thinking that U.S. intelligence definitively knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that threatened America - even though the intelligence community told the president it had no such evidence. The president said before the war that Iraq was an "urgent threat" and a "grave threat" to "any American." In his speech informing Americans that the invasion had started, the President said Iraq "threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

These comments were echoed by other top Administration officials. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said on September 19, 2002 that "no terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." And Vice President Cheney called Iraq a "mortal threat," and said "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction...to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." And Secretary of State Colin Powell, in pressing for U.N. support, said definitively that Iraq possessed "deadly weapons programs" that "are real and present dangers to the region and to the world."

Posted: February 9, 2004


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