Where is the evidence that Bush "lied"?

I know that this will turn into a GD, but here goes. We went to war in Iraq looking for WMDs and we didn’t find any. There could be 2 reasons for this:

  1. Bush was mistaken.
  2. Bush lied.

Where is the evidence that Bush knew for a fact that there were no WMDs in Iraq, but said so anyways to justify an invasion? I’m not looking for anyone’s gut feeling just because they don’t like Bush or Cheney; I would like specific cites to credible evidence that Bush deliberately misled Americans and the rest of the world about the Iraqi WMD program.

Said was sure. Was not sure. Lie.


In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush mentioned a claim that Saddam was trying to purchase ‘yellowcake’ uranium from Africa. At the time, he had already seen a CIA report proving that this claim was false.

Tony Blair famously waved around a report intended to prove that Saddam had the capability to strike Europe and America with chemical weapons in 45 minutes. The report was completely bogus, being largely copied from material that was more than 10 years out of date.

And of course we now know that certain Al Queda detainees were tortured in an attempt to make them give false information about ties to Iraq.

I’ve gotta’ run right now, but you can search for the cites or else someone will be along to fill them in shortly.

There’s another option: Bush was negligent, or even reckless, about how he developed the facts he relied upon.

Imagine that there were 40 CIA analysts working on interpreting the data. 38 of them conclude there’s no credible evidence of WMDs, and two conclude that there are. If Bush chose to accept the reports of those two, without any other reason to distinguish the quality of the report, then he may well have legitimately sure that there were WMDs, but his assurance would have been objectively unreliable.

For me, and I regret the tu quoque-i-ness*, it’s like Clinton saying he wasn’t lying about having sex because it depends on the definition of sex. It’s virtually impossible to prove what was in each man’s mind, but it strains credulity to believe Bush didn’t know the evidence of WMD’s was bullshit. He probably thought they’d find some even without evidence of them, because after all Hussein wuz bad guy, but I think he knew the evidence they had was crap, and therefore saying they had good evidence was a lie.

*It’s not strictly, but it does seem like I’m implying, “well, if Republicans can call Clinton a liar, we can call Bush a liar.”

There’s also the option that Cheney set up his *own *intelligence operation to *create *such “facts”, since the pros weren’t able to tell him what he and Bush already “knew”. Did you forget about that? :dubious:

Not tu quoque at all. :slight_smile:

For me, I think he started out with a belief, and he cherry-picked evidence that sustained that belief. When data came across his desk that contradicted his belief, it was subject to intense scrutiny and near-impossible demands for standards. When information came along that confirmed his belief, it was readily accepted with no skepticism or scrutiny at all.

This makes it an exercise in intellectual dishonesty… but not really actual, lying-type dishonesty.

What people often omit there is that before answering the question, Clinton asked the court for a definition of “sex”, and the definition the court gave him did not include fellatio. So it’s not “under some definitions, Clinton did not have sex with that woman”, it’s “under the definition set down by the court, Clinton did not have sex with that woman”.

Back to Bush, it’s possible that he was negligently ignorant of the truth, but that level of negligent ignorance is equivalent to a lie.

If there was this kind of evidence, I think you’d have heard about it already. Since there hasn’t been an administration source (that I know of) that has said that Bush deliberately lied - which is just about what would be required to back up such a claim - the best argument that can be sustained is that Bush and his team were extremely reckless and irresponsible with the truth.

They relied heavily on one, unproven source of information for many of their strongest claims and set up mini-intelligence shops to sort through and cherry-pick this source of information and discount contradictory assessments. They planted quotes in newspapers as “high-level administration sources” and then used the articles that were ultimately produced as further proof of their arguments when they made the political/news show rounds. They deliberately used the imagery of “we cannot wait for the smoking gun of a mushroom cloud over an American city” to scare people into supporting the invasion in the lead-up to it. Numerous administration officials said they were sure that there were WMDs of some sort in Iraq, when this conclusion was based on intelligence assumptions and not actual proof.

Maybe. It’s also possible we’ll still hear about it in the future, when someone wants to clear their conscience.

I’m not sure there’s a correct answer here. You offer a binary between Bush being well meaning but clueless and Bush consciously stating an untruth, knowing full well it’s an untruth.

In fact, I would say the truth or untruth of a statement played little role in whether Bush would make the statement or not. He said things not out of any interest in the meaning behind the words, but only in their functional effect.

Same could be said of most politicians, of course. Though him doing so in a way that ended up costing hundreds of thousands of lives makes us judge him much more harshly than we would otherwise.

The Downing Street Memo. Curveball. Information used from reports which were known to be frauds at the time. “This isn’t about intelligence. It’s about regime change.”

Let’s do Clinton and Kosovo next! Then maybe LBJ and Vietnam. Then…actually, pretty much any war one cares to read about is started on horrible lies.

Still playing this game? God I would have thought you were bored of it a couple years ago.

Whether you want to dance around whether misleading America about the veracity, reliability and certitude of the “intelligence” used to justify the invasion as a “lie” is completely up to you.

At a telvised press conference on January 26, 1998, Clinton said the following to the nation:

This was before he or any of his lawyers asked for a definition. Kinda hard to buy that Clinton didn’t know that blowjobs are sexual relations.

Or as philosopher Harry Frankfurt would put it, Bush was bullshitting us–a sin Frankfurt finds worse than lying. To bullshit is to traffick in claims about whose truth or falsehood one could not care less. What matters is that the acceptance of these claims–be they true or false–will advance one’s ulterior motives. So the liar at least thinks it is important to know whether what he says is true or false, though he conceals that judgment from others. For the bullshitter, which, let’s not fool ourselves, the GWB Administration was par excellence, that a proposition serves your interest is the only thing worth knowing about that proposition. The liar is flawed, to be sure, but at least he countenances a reality that might not always be rooting for him; the bullshitter is nothing more than a nihilistic narcissist.

These are two different things.

Before the war, I doubt that anyone - even the Iraqis - knew for sure that there were no WMDs in Iraq; chances were excellent that, even if Saddam had cleaned up his act, there was an old mustard gas shell lying around somewhere that someone forgot to neutralize.

The real question was, did Iraq have WMDs that represented a real threat to us - a threat of the level that necessitated that our invasion as a matter of self-protection? Was there any realistic chance that, as Bush and Cheney kept on saying, the ‘smoking gun’ could come in the form of a mushroom cloud?

No, there wasn’t. Everyone with a clue knew that. And invasion of another country was an action totally disproportionate to the possibility that that country might have someone smuggle bio or chem weapons into your own country.

End of story.

To me, the most damning evidence that Bush lied about his motivations for going into Iraq has been the apparent lack of any extraordinary measures…in fact, the lack of even ordinary measures…to secure possible WMD sites and thus prevent the supposed WMDs from falling into the hands of terrorists. (Contrast this to the extraordinary measures that apparently were taken to secure the oil fields.) I mean, if your goal is to keep such weapons out of the hands of terrorists and you have the CIA telling you it is unlikely that Saddam would give / sell them to terrorists anyway, why would you go in and overrun the place and then leave the weapons sites virtually unguarded so that they can be looted and the weapons sold by desperate people on the black market? (At least if Saddam had sold them to terrorists, you know he would have gotten a decent price!)

My own guess is that Bush et al. believed that they would be able to find SOMETHING that they could point to in order to justify the invasion after the fact but that they were not particularly concerned that what Saddam actually had at the moment constituted any great threat if it fell into the hands of terrorists. (One has to note that they already started lowering the bar as to what would be a smoking gun right from the beginning of the invasion.)

Either that, or they were mindbogglingly incompetent.

Look, I’m sorry I brought up Clinton. I really am. The reason I brought him up, though, was because I saw one particular statement he made, under oath, to be a similar, fairly comparable, situation.

In the Paula Jones trial, he said he didn’t have sex. I think he was lying, but it’s impossible to know for sure if he was really, really, super-duper lying, or if he believed his own sophistry about what the definition of sex is.

So I see it with Bush. I think he lied, but it’s impossible to *prove *he double-plus lied without knowing what was in his mind.

Sounds like he would fit right in here. :wink:

My view is that Bush thought there were WMDs, and knowing that there was a lack of real evidence he lied to the country (and Congress) by asserting that he was sure of it.

So the lie was not that Iraq had WMDs, it’s the lie that there was clear evidence of it.