How did the U.S. government lead its people to war?
Bush Administration Claims vs. Facts
No weapons of mass destruction of any kind were found in Iraq
Senior members of the Bush administration made repeated claims that Iraq possessed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and WMD programs, and was a grave and imminent threat to the security of the United States and the world.
Following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, many months of exhaustive investigations found no stockpiles of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. No evidence of active WMD programs was found.
Iraq’s nuclear program ended in 1991 following the first Gulf War, and was never reconstituted. Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. Its biological weapons were destroyed in 1991 and 1992. Through 1998, U.N. weapons inspectors repeatedly checked suspected facilities, and had installed cameras to monitor activity at these sites.
Despite many reports from U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and other groups, questioning whether Iraq had WMD stockpiles or active development programs, the Bush administration continued to assert, without qualification, that Iraq definitely possessed WMDs.
Although Iraq’s alleged possession of WMD programs was used as a justification for preemptive war, Iraq, in fact, did not possess any WMDs or active WMD programs.
January 29, 2002
President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address
“Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. … By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
“We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.”
February 13, 2002
Knight Ridder newspapers report
“President Bush has decided to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power and ordered the CIA, the Pentagon and other agencies to devise a combination of military, diplomatic and covert steps to achieve that goal, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday.
“No military strike is imminent, but Bush has concluded that Saddam and his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs are such a threat to U.S. security that the Iraqi dictator must be removed, even if U.S. allies do not help, said the officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity.
“‘This is not an argument about whether to get rid of Saddam Hussein. That debate is over. This is ... how you do it,’ a senior administration official said in an interview with Knight Ridder.”
“The latest Joint Intelligence Committee assessment, dated Friday, March 15 , said information on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction was ‘sporadic and patchy… There is no intelligence on any biological agent production facilities.’”
“Dubious intelligence about Iraq's biological weapons programs found its way into the Bush administration's case for a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq despite the fact that officials warned in May 2002 that some of the information might be unreliable or fabricated.”
March 24, 2002
Vice President Dick Cheney speaks with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Late Edition
“This is a man of great evil, as the President said. And he is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time…”
July 23, 2002 [reported at a later date]
On this day, Senior British officials meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss Iraq. Years later, the highly confidential minutes of this meeting, known as the Downing Street memo, would be leaked to the Sunday Times of London, which first reported on this memo on May 1, 2005 [link to source]
“Blair had made his fundamental decision on Saddam when he met President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002.
“‘When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April,’ states the paper, ‘he said that the U.K. would support military action to bring about regime change.’
“Sir Richard Dearlove [the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence service] added … his intelligence concerned his recent visit to Washington where he had held talks with George Tenet, director of the CIA.
“‘Military action was now seen asinevitable,’ said Dearlove. ‘Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.’
“The Americans had been trying to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks; but the British knew the evidence was flimsy or non-existent. Dearlove warned the meeting that ‘the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.’
“It was clear from Dearlove’s brief visit that the U.S. administration’s attitude would compound the legal difficulties for Britain. The U.S. had no patience with the United Nations and little inclination to ensure an invasion was backed by the security council, he said.
“Nor did the Americans seem very interested in what might happen in the aftermath of military action…
“Amid all this talk of military might and invasion plans, one awkward voice spoke up. [U.K Foreign Secretary, Jack] Straw warned that, though Bush had made up his mind on military action, the case for it was ‘thin…’
“A few weeks later the government would paint Saddam as an imminent threat to the Middle East and the world. But that morning in private Straw said: ‘Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.’
“It was a key point. If Saddam was not an immediate threat, could war be justified legally?…
“There were three possible legal bases for military action, said [Lord Peter] Goldsmith [Attorney General of England]. Self-defence, intervention to end an humanitarian crisis and a resolution from the U.N. Security Council.
“Neither of the first two options was a possibility with Iraq; it had to be a U.N. resolution. But relying, as some hoped they could, on an existing U.N. resolution, would be ‘difficult.’”
August 26, 2002
Vice President Dick Cheney addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention in Nashville, Tennessee
“But we now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we've gotten this from the firsthand testimony of defectors – including Saddam's own son-in-law, who was subsequently murdered at Saddam's direction. Many of us are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon.
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us…
“As President Bush has said, time is not on our side. Deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terror network, or a murderous dictator, or the two working together, constitutes as grave a threat as can be imagined. The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action…”
The Washington Post (reported on August 10, 2003) [reported at a later date]
“[On Aug. 26, 2002, Cheney said:]‘We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons… Among other sources, we've gotten this from firsthand testimony from defectors, including Saddam's own son-in-law.’
“[Cheney's statement] was a reference to Hussein Kamel, who had managed Iraq's special weapons programs before defecting in 1995 to Jordan. But Saddam Hussein lured Kamel back to Iraq, and he was killed in February 1996, so Kamel could not have sourced what U.S. officials ‘now know.’
“And Kamel's testimony, after defecting, was the reverse of Cheney's description. In one of many debriefings by U.S., Jordanian and U.N. officials, Kamel said on Aug. 22, 1995, that Iraq’s uranium enrichment programs had not resumed after halting at the start of the Gulf War in 1991.”
In a commentary in the Chicago Tribune (published on September 10, 2002), former chief United Nations Special Commission in Iraq [UNSCOM] weapons inspector Scott Ritter challenges Vice President Cheney’s August 26, 2002 claim that Saddam Hussein has resumed efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Ritter points out that Cheney omitted a key part of Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal’s story
“Throughout his interview with UNSCOM, a U.N. special commission, Hussein Kamal reiterated his main point—that nothing was left. ‘All chemical weapons were destroyed,’ he said. ‘I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed. There is not a single missile left.’”
September 1, 2002
Scott Ritter, former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector from 1991–1998, writes in the Baltimore Sun
“From 1991 to 1998, U.N. weapons inspectors, among whom I played an integral part, were able to verifiably ascertain a 90 percent to 95 percent level of disarmament inside Iraq. This included all of the production facilities involved with WMD, together with their associated production equipment and the great majority of what was produced by these facilities.”
Of the rest, Ritter told the U.K. Guardian three weeks later on September 19, 2002
“Iraq has destroyed 90 to 95% of its weapons of mass destruction... We have to remember that this missing 5 to 10% doesn't necessarily constitute a threat. It doesn't even constitute a weapons programme.
“We destroyed all the factories, all of the means of production. We couldn't account for some of the weaponry, but chemical weapons have a shelf-life of five years. Biological weapons have a shelf-life of three. To have weapons today, they would have had to rebuild the factories and start producing these weapons since December 1998.”
And years earlier, on January 20, 1998, the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq [UNSCOM] released an internal working paper, entitled Concealment Aspect — Chemical Weapons [CW]. UNSCOM member and technical expert Igor Mitrokhin wrote
“Taking into consideration the conditions and the quality of CW-agents and munitions produced by Iraq at that time, there is no possibility of weapons remaining from the mid-1980’s.”
September 7, 2002
President George W. Bush addresses the press with British Prime Minister Tony Blair
at Camp David
“I would remind you that when the inspectors … went into Iraq … a report came out of the Atomic– the IAEA– that they were six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.
In reference to this claim by President Bush, Joseph Curl reported three weeks later in the Washington Times (on September 27, 2002) [link to source]
“The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing a nuclear weapon does not exist.
"There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
“In October 1998, just before Saddam kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq, the IAEA laid out a case opposite of Mr. Bush's Sept. 7 declaration.
“‘There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance,’ IAEA Director-General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in a report to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“Mr. Gwozdecky said… ‘I don't know where they have determined that Iraq has retained this much weaponization capability because when we left in December ‘98 we had concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program. We had confiscated their fissile material. We had destroyed all their key buildings and equipment,’ he said.
“Mr. Gwozdecky said there is no evidence about Saddam's nuclear capability right now — either through his organization, other agencies or any government.”
September 8, 2002
Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks on Fox News Sunday
“There is no doubt that he has chemical weapons stocks… There's no question that he has these weapons. But even more importantly, he is striving to do even more, to get even more.”
September 12, 2002
President George W. Bush speaks at the United Nations General Assembly, New York
“U. N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
“United Nations’ inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons...
“With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.”
September 16, 2002
A letter from Iraq’s minister of foreign affairs, Naji Sabri, is hand-delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, stating that Iraq is allowing the return of U.N. weapons inspectors “without conditions”
“I am pleased to inform you of the decision of the Government of the Republic of Iraq to allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions…
“The Government of the Republic of Iraq has based its decision concerning the return of inspectors on its desire to complete the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and to remove any doubts that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction…
“To this end, the Government of the Republic of Iraq is ready to discuss the practical arrangements necessary for the immediate resumption of inspections.”
September 18, 2002
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testifies before the House Armed Services Committee hearing
“[Hussein’s] regime has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons, including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas.”
“We now have irrefutable evidence that he has once again set up and reconstituted his program to take uranium, to enrich it to sufficiently high grade, so that it will function as the base material as a nuclear weapon.”
September 2002 [reported at a later date]
A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report is issued, stating (declassified by the Department of Defense, June 9, 2003)
“A substantial amount of Iraq’s chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM actions… 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.”
“We know they have weapons of mass destruction. We know they have active programs. There isn’t any debate
“The danger to our country is grave… The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons.
“According to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes, after the order were given.”
Vanity Fair (reported in May 2004) [reported at a later date]
“The MI6 [British Intelligence] chief, Sir Richard Dearlove, called on [Prime Minister Tony] Blair at Downing Street. He had the answer to the prime minister's prayers: a source inside Iraq saying Saddam had stocks of chemical and biological weapons which could be deployed within 45 minutes. There was no corroboration, and the source's contact with MI6 was not direct: his claim had been supplied via one of the I.N.C.'s [Iraqi National Congress’s] rivals, the London-based Iraqi National Accord. There had been no attempt to run the claim by the acknowledged intelligence experts on W.M.D. ‘You just never do this,’ says one intelligence official.”
October 1, 2002 [reported at a later date]
In the classified, 93-page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) entitled Iraq’s Continuing Programs For Weapons of Mass Destruction, the CIA asserts that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear program.
Relegated as an alternative assessment within the NIE, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) states (from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, published on July 9, 2004) [link to source]
“The Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR) believes that Saddam continues to want nuclear weapons... The activities we have detected do not, however, add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons. Iraq may be doing so, but INR considers the available evidence inadequate to support such a judgment.”
October 7, 2002
President George W. Bush outlines the Iraqi threat at the Cincinnati Museum Center
“Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction.
“We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons, and diseases, and gasses, and atomic weapons.
“We’ve also discovered, through intelligence, that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disburse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs for missions targeting the United States.
“The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.
“Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past.
“Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
“If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year.
“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
November 7, 2002
President George W. Bush speaks to the press in the Presidential Hall
“I think most people around the world realize that Saddam Hussein is a threat. And no one likes war, but they also don’t like the idea of Saddam Hussein having a nuclear weapon. Imagine what would happen. And by the way, we don’t know how close he is to a nuclear weapon right now. We know he wants one...”
November 8, 2002
The United Nations Security Council votes to adopt Resolution 1441. It states: [link to source]
[The U.N. Security Council]… “Decides… to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations … and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process…
“Decides that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament obligations… the Government of Iraq shall provide… a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons…
“Decides that Iraq shall provide [U.N. weapons inspectors] immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records…
“Recalls… that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.”
November 13, 2002
Iraq responds to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441
“In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraq today indicated its willingness to accept the return of weapons inspectors to the country under the terms of a new Security Council resolution…”
November 27, 2002
UNMOVIC and IAEA weapons inspections begin in Iraq
“The UNMOVIC and IAEA inspection teams conducted their first weapons inspections today…”
December 3, 2002
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks in the Pentagon Press Room
“The United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The U.K. knows that they have weapons of mass destruction. Any country on the face of the earth with an active intelligence program knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.”
December 8, 2002
As required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, Iraq needed to submit a “currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons” by December 8, 2002. The New York Times reports:
“Iraq today delivered a 12,000-page declaration on banned weapons to the United Nations, meeting a Security Council deadline with more than 24 hours to spare. Officials said the documents confirmed, in rebuttal of American and British claims, that Saddam Hussein's government had no weapons of mass destruction and no current programs to develop them.”
January 18, 2003
Charles Hanley of the Associated Press reports
“…International experts have uncovered no ‘smoking guns’ in Iraq in almost 400 inspections since late November.” As the inspections failed to find any WMD, Bush officials challenged these outcomes, questioning once again the effectiveness of inspections.”
January 28, 2003
President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address
“The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax – enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
“The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin – enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.
“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.
“The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
“Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
“The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary, he is deceiving.”
February 1–4, 2003 [reported at a later date]
As reported in Newsweek (published on June 9, 2003)
“George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, was frustrated. For four days and nights last winter, some of the most astute intelligence analysts in the U.S. government sat around Tenet's conference-room table in his wood-paneled office in Langley, Va., trying to prove that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to America…
“On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell was scheduled to go to the United Nations and make the case that Saddam possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. But the evidence was thin – sketchy and speculative, or uncorroborated, or just not credible…
“A recently retired State Department intelligence analyst directly involved in assessing the Iraqi threat, Greg Thielmann, flatly told NEWSWEEK that inside the government, ‘there is a lot of sorrow and anger at the way intelligence was misused. You get a strong impression that the administration didn't think the public – would be enthusiastic about the idea of war if you attached all those qualifiers.’
“… The case that Saddam possessed WMD was based, in large part, on assumptions, not hard evidence…”
“Then came the defectors. Former Iraqi officials fleeing the regime told of underground bunkers and labs hiding vast stores of chemical and biological weapons and nuclear materials. The CIA, at first, was skeptical. Defectors in search of safe haven sometimes stretch or invent Facts. The true believers in the Bush administration, on the other hand, embraced the defectors and credited their stories. Many of the defectors were sent to the Americans by Ahmed Chalabi, the politically ambitious and controversial Iraqi exile…
“The CIA was especially wary of Chalabi, whom they regarded as a con man… But rather than accept the CIA's doubts, top officials in the Bush Defense Department set up their own team of intelligence analysts, a small but powerful shop now called the Office of Special Plans…
“The real test of the government's case against Saddam came in the testimony by Secretary of State Powell delivered to the United Nations on Feb. 5… Presented with a ‘script’ by the White House national-security staff, Powell suspected that the hawks had been ‘cherry-picking,’ looking for any intel that supported their position and ignoring anything to the contrary.
“Powell ordered his aides to check out every fact…
“For four days and nights, Powell and Tenet, top aides and top analysts and, from time to time, Rice, pored over the evidence – and discarded much of it. Out went suggestions linking Saddam to 9-11. The bogus Niger documents were dumped…”
February 5, 2003
Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses the United Nations Security Council
“…Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions…
“One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents…
“We know, from Iraq’s past admissions, that it has successfully weaponized not only anthrax, but also other biological agents, including botulinum toxin, aflatoxin, and ricin… Saddam Hussein has investigated dozens of biological agents, causing diseases such as gas gangrene, plague, typhus, tetanus, cholera, camelpox, and hemorrhagic fever. And he also has the wherewithal to develop small pox…
“In May, 2002, our satellites photographed the unusual activity in this picture. Here, we see cargo vehicles accompanied by a decontamination vehicle associated with biological or chemical weapons activity…
“This photograph of the site, taken two months later in July, shows that this previous site, as well as all of the other sites around this site, have been fully bulldozed and graded in order to conceal chemical weapons evidence that would be there from years of chemical weapons activity…
“Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough agent to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.
“Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly 5 times the size of Manhattan…
“Saddam Hussein is determined to get his hands on a nuclear bomb. He is so determined, that he has made repeated covert attempts to acquire high specification aluminum tubes from 11 different countries, even after inspections resumed…”
February 6, 2003
President George W. Bush delivers a speech at the White House
“The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has developed spray devices that could be used on unmanned aerial vehicles, with ranges far beyond what is permitted by the Security Council. A UAV launched from a vessel off the American coast could reach hundreds of miles inland.
“And we have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons, the very weapons the dictator tells the world he does not have.”
February 11, 2003
Director of the CIA George Tenet testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
“I think we will find caches of weapons of mass destruction, absolutely.”
February 12, 2003
CIA Director Tenet testifies before the Senate Committee on Armed Services
“[Hussein] is going to get a nuclear weapon sooner or later. Our estimate is that with fissile material, he could have it in a year or two.
“And his biological-weapons capability is far bigger than it was at the time of the Gulf War, and he has a chemical-weapons capability that he hasn't declared.”
February 2003 [reported at a later date]
The Washington Post reports on August 10, 2003
“The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of October 2002 cited new construction at facilities once associated with Iraq's nuclear program, but analysts had no reliable information at the time about what was happening under the roofs. By February , a month before the war, U.S. government specialists on the ground in Iraq had seen for themselves that there were no forbidden activities at the sites.”
March 5, 2003
In his remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Secretary of State Colin Powell refers to the December 2002 Iraqi weapons declaration
“…The 12,000-page document that they tried to pass off as the whole truth was nothing but a rehash of old and discredited material, with some new lies thrown in for good measure to make it look fresh. Fresh lies on top of the old lies.
“It repeated the biggest lie of all, the claim that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, thereby setting the stage for further deception of the inspectors as they went about their business.”
March 7, 2003
After months of U.N. weapons inspections, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei delivers a speech to the United Nations
“One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.
“Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.
“Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuge out of the aluminum tubes in question…
“After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq….
“I should note that in the past three weeks, possibly as a result of ever-increasing pressure by the international community, Iraq has been forthcoming in its cooperation, particularly with regard to the conduct of private interviews and in making available evidence that could contribute to the resolution of matters of IAEA concern…”
March 16, 2003
Vice President Dick Cheney speaks on NBC News’ Meet The Press
“We believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.”
March 17, 2003
President George W. Bush delivers his Address to the Nation
“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.
“The danger is clear: using chemical, biological, or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambition and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.”
March 18, 2003
The Washington Post reports
“As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged – and in some cases disproved – by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.
“For months, President Bush and his top lieutenants have produced a long list of Iraqi offenses, culminating Sunday [March 16] with Vice President Cheney's assertion that Iraq has ‘reconstituted nuclear weapons.’ Previously, administration officials have tied Hussein to al Qaeda, to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and to an aggressive production of biological and chemical weapons. Bush reiterated many of these charges in his address to the nation last night.
“But these assertions are hotly disputed. Some of the administration's evidence – such as Bush's assertion that Iraq sought to purchase uranium – has been refuted by subsequent discoveries.
“Earlier this month, ElBaradei said information about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium were based on fabricated documents.”
March 19, 2003
The U.S. launches military strikes, commencing the Iraq War.
March 30, 2003
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos
"… The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.”
May 14, 2003
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answers Senators’ questions at the hearing of the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee
“Senator, I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons. So the statement I think you read, which – that we've warned of potential nuclear capability and weapons and materials in the hands of terrorists, in terms of their having them now, I don't know anyone who suggested that that was the case.”
June 24, 2003
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a U.S. Department of Defense Press Briefing
“I have reason, every reason, to believe that the intelligence that we were operating off was correct and that we will, in fact, find weapons or evidence of weapons programs that are conclusive. But that's just a matter of time.”
August 10, 2003
The Washington Post reports
“…Based on interviews with analysts and policymakers inside and outside the U.S. government, and access to internal documents and technical evidence not previously made public… The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates – in public and behind the scenes – made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied.”
September 29, 2003
The New York Times reports
“An internal assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that most of the information provided by Iraqi defectors who were made available by the Iraqi National Congress was of little or no value, according to federal officials briefed on the arrangement.
“In addition, several Iraqi defectors introduced to American intelligence agents by the exile organization and its leader, Ahmad Chalabi, invented or exaggerated their credentials as people with direct knowledge of the Iraqi government and its suspected unconventional weapons program, the officials said…
“The Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group, was formed with American help in 1992 and received millions of dollars under the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. In a stance that angered the dissidents and some Pentagon officials, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency had long been skeptical of the information from defectors that Mr. Chalabi's organization had brought out of Iraq…”
October 2, 2003
The nonpartisan, nonprofit policy research organization, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, presents analysis of David Kay’s congressional testimony
“Buried in the October 2  congressional testimony of David Kay were two bombshells: all the Iraq Survey Group evidence collected to date indicates that there were not any active programs to develop or produce chemical or nuclear weapons.
“In the middle of a paragraph halfway through his testimony, Kay presents what should have been his lead finding: ‘Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced – if not entirely destroyed – during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of U.N. sanctions and U.N. inspections.’ Similarly… he says: ‘to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.’
“… It now appears from everything we have been able to learn since the war that the combination of U.N. sanctions, inspections, and the military strikes of 1991 and 1998 effectively destroyed Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons programs and prevented their reconstruction. The same appears to be true for the biological weapons program and the missile program, but there is still more to be learned about these efforts.”
October 8, 2003
President George W. Bush speaks at the Republican National Committee Presidential Gala, Washington DC
“Since the liberation of Iraq, our investigators have found evidence of a clandestine network of biological laboratories, advanced design work on prohibited long-range missiles, an elaborate campaign to hide these illegal programs.
“There's a lot more to investigate. Yet it is now undeniable – undeniable – that Saddam Hussein was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1441. It is undeniable that Saddam Hussein was a deceiver and a danger. The Security Council was right to demand that Saddam disarm. And America was right to enforce that demand. Thanks to our brave troops and a coalition of nations, America is now more secure, the world is more peaceful and Iraq is free.”
December 1, 2003
The Associated Press reports
“Months of searching by hundreds of U.S. experts have found no trace of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in Iraq, just as U.N. inspectors found none before the war. No Iraqi scientists have confirmed the programs were revived in recent years.”
January 24, 2004
The New York Times reports
“David Kay, who led the American effort to find banned weapons in Iraq, said Friday after stepping down from his post that he has concluded that Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons at the start of the war last year.
“In an interview with Reuters, Dr. Kay said he now thought that Iraq had illicit weapons at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, but that the subsequent combination of United Nations inspections and Iraq's own decisions ‘got rid of them.’”
February 4, 2004
Greg Thielmann, former Director of the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office for Colin Powell’s intelligence bureau (U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research) is interviewed on CBS’ 60 Minutes
“At the time, Thielmann says that Iraq didn't pose an imminent threat to the U.S.: ‘I think it didn't even constitute an imminent threat to its neighbors at the time we went to war.’”
February 5, 2004
David Kay, former director of the Iraq Survey Group, speaks on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now
“We have not found any chemical weapons that were present on the battlefield, even in a small number.”
February 5, 2004
David Kay speaks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace forum
“The nuke program was not resurgent. It is clear that the Iraqis had realized how seriously decayed their capability in this area had gone.”
February 5, 2004
The Associated Press reports
“In his first public defense of prewar intelligence, CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday that U.S. [intelligence] analysts never claimed before the war that Iraq posed an imminent threat.
“Tenet said that analysts had varying opinions on the state of Iraq’s chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and that those differences were spelled out in a National Intelligence Estimate given to the White House in October 2002.”
February 13, 2004
Knight Ridder newspaper reports
“U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that almost all of the Iraqi defectors whose information helped make the Bush administration's case against Saddam Hussein exaggerated what they knew, fabricated tales or were "coached" by others on what to say.
“Most of the former Iraqi officials were made available to U.S. intelligence agencies by the Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of exile groups with close ties to the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office. The INC had lobbied for years for a U.S. military operation to oust Saddam.
“The officials said some of the defectors showed signs of "coaching" because they used similar language. That raised suspicions that the INC had prepped them before their debriefings.
“Senior U.S. officials said that despite doubts about the defectors' reports, they continued to be sought by top civilians in the Defense Department and other officials eager to make the case for war.”
July 9, 2004
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issues its Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq
“...The judgment… that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, was not supported by the intelligence. The Committee agrees with the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) alternative view that the available intelligence ‘does not add up to a compelling case for reconstitution.’
“… that the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission was ‘expanding the infrastructure – research laboratories, production facilities, and procurement networks – to produce nuclear weapons,’ is not supported by the intelligence provided to the Committee.
“… ‘that all key aspects – research & development, production, and weaponization – of Iraq’s offensive biological weapons program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War’ is not supported by the intelligence provided to the Committee.
“… that ‘Baghdad has… chemical weapons’ overstated both what was known about Iraq’s chemical weapons holdings and what intelligence analysts judged about Iraq’s chemical weapons holdings.
“… that Iraq was developing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ‘probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents’ overstated… what was known about the mission of Iraq’s small UAVs… The Intelligence Community failed to discuss possible conventional missions for Iraq’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) which were clearly noted in the intelligence reporting and which most analysts believed were the UAV’s primary missions.”
September 30, 2004
After 18 months of exhaustive investigations, the CIA-appointed Iraq Survey Group (ISG) issues its final report
“Saddam [Hussein] ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf War. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.
“While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter.”
“ISG judges that in 1991 and 1992, Iraq appears to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of BW [biowarfare] weapons and probably destroyed remaining holdings of bulk BW agent. However ISG lacks evidence to document complete destruction.
“In practical terms, with the destruction of the Al Hakam facility, Iraq abandoned its ambition to obtain advanced BW weapons quickly. ISG found no direct evidence that Iraq, after 1996, had plans for a new BW program or was conducting BW-specific work for military purposes.
“Iraq would have faced great difficulty in re-establishing an effective BW agent production capability.
“In spite of exhaustive investigation, ISG found no evidence that Iraq possessed, or was developing BW agent production systems mounted on road vehicles or railway wagons.”
October 3, 2004
The New York Times reports
“… As they studied raw intelligence reports, those involved in the Senate [Select Committee on Intelligence] investigation came to a sickening realization. ‘We kept looking at the intelligence and saying, 'My God, there's nothing here,'’ one official recalled.”
April 25, 2005
Regarding the conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group’s mission, the Associated Press reports
“‘After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted,’ wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall…
“In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has ‘gone as far as feasible’ and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.”