Bush knew Iraq WMD claims were bullsh*t

Since some folks (including SDMB regulars) are still clinging to the notion that George W. Bush didn’t lie about Iraqi WMD, but was merely “misled,” I thought I’d toss out the following. It’s rather long, but definitely worth a read:

Of course, this is all old hat for a lot of folks on the SDMB. I’m simply curious as to whether any of the “Bush was misled” apologists can actually refute the points raised in the article, or if they’ll resort to simply running around with fingers in their ears yet again.

Interesting timing, this thread. I’ve just finished watching Uncovered - The Whole Truth About the Iraq War and it makes basically the same point. The best thing about it is that is uses the administration’s own words against them. Clips of Cheney saying one thing, followed by clips of him denying he ever said it. Clips of Bush affirming that the intelligence is “real good”. That sort of thing over and over.

There was also a section on how much of a tool Powell was at the UN, making his debut performance as a sattelite imaging expert. CIA experts with decades of imagry experience followd up by saying how embarrasing this part of the speech was. He also did a bang-up job of showing us artist’s renditions of bioweapons trailers. Why use cartoon drawings? Because there was no evidence that the real thing existed.

Thanks, rjung. This revision of history appears to be gaining traction, so your efforts are unfortunately probably going to fall on deaf ears. I would note that there is so much more evidence out there, such as the existence of the OSP, the documented efforts by the CIA to have the administration cool it on the infamous 16 words, and the incident that prompted Condi to assert that “the President is not a fact checker.”

It seems, however, that the idea of Bush being misled by the intelligence agencies is a handy hook for administration defenders to hang their hat. I’m just curious if long timers in the intelligence community look on this with indifference, or are happy to fall on their swords, or are carrying a big ass grudge.

Don’t forget that blaming the intelligence also serves to take any blame from Congress for approving the Iraq War. The system was wrong… so no one is wrong !!! Absurd… but are voters paying attention ?

What is sad that the same thing was done in Britain… everyone did it in goodwill.

Bush apologists will probably claim that eventually Saddam would have those weapons anyway… that an “evil” dictator was taken down anyway. That Bush did it in good faith… never mind cherry picking intelligence and being deaf to contrary views.

Overall I think this is very sad… I’d rather Bush and Blair had just said “we wanna take Saddam down” and so forth. Democracy and international law wouldn’t be kicked around like this. Sadder still is if a real threat does emerge. Some little arab country with real nukes and willing to use them… then everyone will think the intel is wrong…

Thanks from me also. Good stuff.

We also shouldn’t forget that no matter what the state of intelligence was in 2002, before the war began the UN inspectors had been to the places named by US Intelligence (or Chalabi) as WMD locations, and found nothing. This converted Blix into an aWMDist.

Yeah…That’s an interesting article that I just posted to this thread last night. There is also this piece by David Corn in The Nation a few months back.

And, it is also interesting to read the following articles that appeared in the New York Times before the war (or, in the last case, 4 days after it began), reporting the ways in which the intelligence community and such were uncomfortable about the case that the Administration was making:

• October 9, 2002: Aides Split on Assessment of Iraq’s Plans
• October 24, 2002: A C.I.A. Rival; Pentagon Sets up Intelligence Unit
• Feb. 2, 2003: Split at C.I.A. and F.B.I. on Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda
• March 23, 2003: C.I.A. Aides Feel Pressure in Preparing Iraqi Reports

(Because of the vagueries of how the N.Y. Times runs it archive, it seems the links above get redirected in a way that only allows me to access the summaries, but if I go to this page and hit on the same links, I am able to read the full articles. See what works for you!)

It’s important that the history on this not be conveniently rewritten.

I don’t even think the “misled by intel” line is even intended for serious debate. The Bushiviks know they have a solid base of people who will forgive him anything, just so long as they are presented with a “talking point”, something they can hang on to. They aren’t particular, not skeptical, throw them a bone. This line of defense was the last line, there is no place left to go. They’re hoping it will do. Clearly for a considerable number of people, it will.

But this is intended to sway anyone who isn’t already on board. They have to say something. And this is it. The best they can do.

Wow. Great work, rjung. It’s nice to have that in one place - I felt they believed what they wanted to, but I’d gone a little soft on the ‘bad intelligence’ stuff. Now I see I shouldn’t have. I did read a lot of those articles the first time out, but it’s been a while.

It is amazing to me how galvanized this nation is. As a disinterested party in the pissing contest between Present Tyrant Bush and Future Tyrant Kerry, I tend to be skeptical of both sides. I do not believe Republicans who tell me that Bush has not trampled upon our civil liberties because the fact of the matter is that he has. On the other hand, I do not believe Democrats who tell me that Bush sitting in the Florida classroom for five minutes is in any way significant because the fact of the matter is that it isn’t. So I approached Rjung’s article with an open mind. Even though he thinks I make things up to win arguments, the fact of the matter is that I don’t. Nothing would please me more than to add to my arsenal of complaints against Bush the discovery that he is a liar — that is, a liar on a significantly greater scale than any arbitrary politician. They’re almost all liars, so what I need is a whopper like this one under discussion in order really to cite it when I bash Bush for his tyranny.

But something in the article caught my eye almost immediately. It was one of those little surprises that cause a man to tilt his head, blink his eyes, and go “hmm…”. It was in the first paragraph. (I do not include the one-sentence statement that is printed as though it were a paragraph.) The article refers to what the 9/11 Commission Report reported, but does not cite the commission. Instead, it cites the NY Times. This seemed weird for a couple of reasons: (1) the commission’s report is readily available, and (2) the New York Times requires a subscription. So, verifying the article’s claim was made more problematic than was necessary, and I wondered why. I mean, don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but it did cause me immediately to slow down and read very carefully. And I’m really surprised that Rjung and others did not catch this and tilt their heads as well, since they call out all and sundry who cite portions of Fahrenheit 9/11 while getting their information from other reports about it. I would have thought that they would hold that standard generally, and thus call out anyone who cites portions of the 9/11 Commission Report while getting their information from the New York Times.

Well, let’s move on. The article says:

The phrase in quotation marks is linked to the New York Times. I can’t access the New York Times article, but I do have the entire 585 page report from the 9/11 Commission, and the phrase “no credible evidence” appears five times, none of them in the context the article quotes. There is (1) no credible evidence that “Sudan offered to hand Bin Ladin over to the United States”; (2) no credible evidence that “any person in the United States gave the hijackers substantial financial assistance”; (3) no credible evidence that Omar al Bayoumi “believed in violent extremism or knowingly aided extremist groups”; (4) no credible evidence of “of specific plans to attack U.S. civil aviation”; and (5) no credible evidence “to support theories of Iraqi government involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing.” The last one appears in a footnote. So can someone please tell me what the New York Times article is talking about exactly?

Then I ran into where the article said this:

I followed the link to the CBS News report, and the article quoted it accurately. However, the CBS News report summation of the note is a bit of a logical leap. It quotes the note as saying that Rumsfeld wanted the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H.” S.H. presumably means Saddam Hussein. But that does not say to come up with plans for striking Iraq; it says to find out whether the best information justifies a strike on Iraq. There is nothing about drawing up any plans; it is about gathering the best information to see whether it points to Saddam. So can someone please tell me whether there is some other source stating that Rumsfeld instructed the military to begin making plans to strike Iraq?

One final question. The article said this:

I read the CIA report that it references, titled “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 30 June 2000”. The article does quote the portion that it quotes more or less accurately (the actual quote uses WMD), except that it left off an entire dependent clause. The article puts a period inside its quotation marks, but there is no period after “programs”; there is a comma. The entire sentence says, “We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its WMD programs, although given its past behavior, this type of activity must be regarded as likely.” (Emphasis mine.) Moreover, the very next sentence says, “We assess that since the suspension of UN inspections in December of 1998, Baghdad has had the capability to reinitiate both its CW and BW programs within a few weeks to months.” So can someone explain how the actual complete sentences in the CIA report (and not the fragment quoted in the article) does not imply that intelligence believes Iraq WMD reconstitution was likely?

I’ve stopped reading the article after running into these questions since naturally, if the underlying premises are faulty, then whatever inferences that may follow would be faulty as well. I’ll finish it if someone can help me out here. Thanks.

Bet’cha it’s that one.

The war wasn’t based on claims that “Iraq WMD reconstitution was likely,” Lib. Likewise, Bush didn’t fall back on lines about ‘WMD-related activities’ and ‘programs’ and ‘capability’ until the initial claims (Iraq has chemical and biological weapons and is working to reconstitute its nuclear program) fell through. I think part of this story is the way the administration interpreted sentences like that one: they turned guarded assessments like “must be regarded as likely” into worst-case scenarios to hype the threat.

Sure they did. I don’t think many peope are disputing that the administration played up the evidence, exaggerated, etc. However, the OPs assertion (which most, including you, have gushed over in lemming like lockstep) is “Bush KNEW Iraq WMD claims were bullsh*t” (emphasis mine). Playing up data for political gain does not equate to KNOWING the information was bullshit and telling it anyway KNOWING it was a lie. It is a position that seems to be lost on many on this board unfortunately.


I love the shades of gray we’ve explored with this administration. ‘It’s dishonest spinning of information for political gain, but it’s not lying.’ Call me a lemming all you want. They were informed something was possible, and told the public it was definitely true in order to justify an action they wanted to carry out regardless.

But this is what it comes down to? The defense is ‘they didn’t know it was bullshit, they just chose to tailor a questionable set of facts to their liking to create a bullshit case and sway public opinion???’ That’s complete disregard for the truth, isn’t it?

Am I alone, or does this go way beyond “It depends upon what the meaning of ‘is’ is?”

I thin Lib’s main problem is not so much with the claim itself, as with the article’s cavlier use of it as supporting evidence.

Welcome to reality, American politics style. Sorry that its taken the Bush administration to make you aware of this reality.

Who is defending them? I think that reguardless of whether there was WMD or not, we were STILL wrong to go into Iraq. We didn’t need the Iraqi foriegn adventure and it took us away from our REAL fight…namely that of curtailing AQ and other terrorist organizations. However, the OP was stating, and you and the rest uncritically just bumped along with it, that Bush KNEW that there were NO WMD and he and his administration completely lied about them. Sorry, this just isn’t reality. Did they exaggerate? Sure they did. Did they do it for political reasons? Again, this is a no brainer. But they didn’t make this stuff out of whole clothe, no matter how much the rabbidly anti-Bush crowd wants it to be that way. And THATS what I was taking exception too.

Funny you should mention that. Can I assume you really were previously aware of the current state of US politics before Bush??


Yes, I understand that. I’ve actually got the new Newsweek in front of me, and they say it the way the Times probably should’ve -

It’s misusing the quote, but I think Lib is being overdramatic.

If it is, then it is a stretch. An awful lot can happen in eight years. I’ve never understood the alleged ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda to be concerning the '93 attack. If there’s something out there saying otherwise, I’m open to hearing it.

Maybe not, but the claims made in the OP’s article ARE based on that. It is in fact the portion of the sentence that it quoted. It is the article, and not I, that cited the CIA report.

Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, but all I’ve done is ask some questions and explained why I have them. To me, “Bush knew Iraq WMD claims were bullsh*t” is rather melodramatic — even if essentially true. I suppose you can dismiss my questions as melodramatic, but only at the expense of being rather inconsistent.

You are making an incorrect assumption that because the Commission Final Report didn’t include the reference of “no credible evidence” linking Iraq to Al Qaida, that the quote is being mis-attributed to the commision or is a mis-quote of an actual commission report statement, casting doubt on everything that follows.

The quote is not from the Final report, but from an interim report released in June. Google – iraq relationship commission “no credible evidence”. You will find a whole slew of stories around June 16-17, well before the final report was issued, using this exact quote, including Fox.

To see how wrong this is, one needs only consider the policy alternatives that were current; namely

  • invade Iraq; or
  • continue the UNMOVIC Inspections to determine the facts.

Given those alternatives the Bush Administration has 2 ways of representing the evidence:

  • In accordance with the advice it was receiving from its own intelligence services that the evidence was fragmentary and ambiguous; or
  • In accordance with advice with a known ideological or tendentious bias, that the evidence was absolute.

What then is the problem with representing the evidence as absolute? In short, why does it matter? It matters because the way it was represented foreclosed the option of continuing the UNMOVIC Inspections. Bush et als representations were in effect declaring that the Inspections were redundant.

However, as the commission went on to say, it didn’t.

Boyo Jim explains perfectly why I said what I did. It’s a poor editing choice that does not actually cast any doubt on anything that follows.

When a candid representation of the evidence would have been a compelling argument for the continuation of the Inspections process.