Thursday, July 01, 2004

Secrets And Lies

At the request of Representative Harry Waxman (D - CA), the House Committee on Government Reform has compiled a searchable database containing 237 specific misleading statements, made on 125 separate occasions, "about the threat posed by Iraq made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice."

While some statements are merely misleading and duplicitous, others are outright false.
As the summary of the Waxman Report describes, "Most of the misleading statements on the Record database involve the selective use of intelligence or the failure to include essential qualifiers or caveats.

For example, statements of certainty that Iraq was close to possessing nuclear weapons were misleading because they ignored significant doubts and disagreement in the U.S. intelligence community regarding whether Iraq was actively pursuing a nuclear program."

As evidence of this, the Waxman report points to a "speech on February 5, 2004, [in which] Mr. Tenet explained that there was not unanimity on whether Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program and that these differences were described in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): 'let me be clear, where there were differences, the Estimate laid out the disputes clearly.' In particular, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) concluded in the NIE that '[t]he 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.' INR added: "Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors."

Furthermore, consider "the conclusions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which concluded that there was 'no indication of resumed nuclear activities . . . nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities.'"

In this context, these assertions were made by Vice President Cheney:

"[W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement build a nuclear weapon" [September 8, 2002]

"[W]e believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons" [March 2003]

And President Bush:

"The regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons and is seeking the materials required to do so." [October 2002]

Several days later, President Bush asserted that Saddam Hussein "is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon." [October 2002]

"Knowing these realities, 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." [October 7, 2002]

And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

"We said they had a nuclear program. That was never any debate." [July 13, 2003]

Now consider, in addition to the ambiguity in the NIE, and the disagreements within the intelligence community, as mentioned above, the findings of David Kay in his report and testimony before Congress:

"[W]e have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material."

He added, "As best as has been determined . . . in 2000 they had decided that their nuclear establishment had deteriorated to such point that it was totally useless." His conclusion was that there was "no doubt at all" that Iraq had less of an ability to produce fissile material in 2001 than in 1991. According to Dr. Kay, the nuclear program had been "seriously degraded" and the "activities of the inspectors in the early ‘90s
did a tremendous amount."

Some of the other highlights include:

President Bush

"On its present course, the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency. . . .It has developed weapons of mass death." [October 2, 2002]

"The liberation of Iraq . . . removed an ally of al Qaeda." [May 1, 2003]

"We found the weapons of mass destruction. . . . [F]or those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them." [May 29, 2003]

Vice President Cheney

"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." [August 26, 2002]

National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice

"We do know that there have been shipments going into . . . Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to — high quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." [September 8, 2002]

But consider that these findings from the Waxman report:

"The Department of Energy believed that the tubes likely were not part of a nuclear enrichment program, stating in the NIE that 'the tubes probably are not part of the program.' The International Atomic Energy Agency agreed, concluding: 'There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment.'

In addition to dissent from the Energy Department and international inspectors, the State Department also expressed formal reservations, stating in the NIE that 'INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors.' Instead, the State Department accepted the 'judgment of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges.'"

Regarding the President's State of the Union Address in which he mentioned the fictitious attempts by Iraq to obtain uranium from Niger:

"We did not know at the time — no one knew at the time, in our circles — maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery." []July 11, 2003]

"[H]ad there been even a peep that the agency did not want that sentence in or that George Tenet did not want that sentence in, that the director of Central Intelligence did not want it in, it would have been gone." [July 11, 2003]

As the Waxman report notes: "This statement is false because, as Ms. Rice’s deputy Stephen Hadley subsequently acknowledged, the CIA sent Ms. Rice and Mr. Hadley memos in October 2002 warning against the use of this claim." [July 22, 2003]

Waxman also points to recent efforts by administration officials to re-cast their earlier statements. For example:

"We never said there were stockpiles." -Paul Wolfowitz in an interview with Howard Arenstein, CBS Radio (Mar. 16, 2004).

But, Donald Rumsfeld stated: "He has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons." [Sept 18, 2002]

And Vice President Cheney asserted: "We know they have biological and chemical weapons." [March 17, 2003]

The report continues, "Administration officials sometimes claimed to have specific details about stockpile locations and movements. In his speech to the United Nations, for example, Secretary Powell showed photographs of supposed Iraqi chemical stockpiles, stating: 'How do I know that? How can I say that? Let me give you a closer look. Look at the image on the left. On the left is a close-up of one of the four chemical bunkers. The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions.'

Secretary Rumsfeld was even more specific, claiming that the Iraqis were 'moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours and placing them in residential neighborhoods.' He also made this statement: 'We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.'"

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?