David Corn
Mon Apr 5, 2004 14:02


But do you know why the following statements are some of Bush's biggest whoppers?

10. "I have been very candid about my past."
9. "I’m a uniter not a divider."
8. "My [tax] plan unlocks the door to the middle class of millions of hard-working Americans."
7. "This allows us to explore the promise and potential of stem cell research."
6. "We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th."
5. "[We are] taking every possible step to protect our country from danger."
4. "I first got to know Ken [Lay in 1994]."
3. "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." And, "[Saddam Hussein is] a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda."
2. "We found the weapons of mass destruction."
1. "It’s time to restore honor and dignity to the White House."

Click here for a full explanation of each lie.
01/14/04 - New Evidence Against Iraq-al Qaeda Tie

Before the Iraq war, Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein was "dealing with" al Qaeda and that it was this connection that made Hussein a threat to America. Bush argued that on any given day, Hussein could slip weapons of mass destruction to his pals in al Qaeda (even though there was no clear evidence Hussein actually had WMDs to share). And when Bush spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, he declared Hussein an "ally" of al Qaeda.

The case for the Hussein-bin Laden link grows even weaker today. The New York Times reports that according to a document found with Hussein when he was captured, the former Iraqi dictator had warned his Iraqi followers to be wary of forging an alliance with foreign Arab fighters who had come to Iraq to battle American troops. Apparently, Hussein believed that the jihadists--like al Qaeda fighters--had a different agenda than his Ba'athist supporters in the anti-United States insurgency. The letter did refer to the state of play after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but it hardly made it seem as if Hussein and al Qaeda had ever been allies.

1/08/04 - Powell Blows Apart Bush's War Rationale

In a press conference today, Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked about a report produced by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that concluded there was no evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and no evidence that Hussein was likely to transfer weapons of mass destruction to Osama bin Laden's network. Powell replied, "There is not--you know, I have not seen smoking-gun concrete evidence about the connection, but I think the possibility of such connections did exist and it was prudent to consider them at the time that we did."

No concrete evidence? The possibility of such connections? That is not how Bush depicted the supposed link between Iraq's dictator and America's number-one foe. In a press conference in November 2002, he declared that Hussein was "dealing" with al Qaeda. And during his high-profile May 1, 2003, speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush said that Hussein was an "ally" of Hussein.

So what did those statements mean if there was no solid evidence tying Hussein to al Qaeda? Bush had argued that war was necessary because (1) Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and (2) Hussein maintained an operational alliance with al Qaeda. Bush claimed that Hussein could at any moment slip his WMDs to bin Laden. Consequently, Bush's assertions about the relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda was an essential part of his case for war. Yet now Powell--who on February 5, 2002, told the United Nations Security Council that there was a "sinister nexus" between Iraq and al Qaeda--says all the talk of an alliance between Hussein and al Qaeda was based on prudent concern not actual facts. That is not how Bush presented the matter to the American public. Once more, here is evidence of the absence of a nexus between reality and Bush's rhetoric and yet another indication he misled the nation on the way to war.

01/08/03 - Bush's WMD Case Weakens Further

When will George W. Bush say, "We were wrong on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction"? The evidence--or lack of evidence--continues to mount suggesting that Bush and his aides made false statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war. Yesterday an extensive Washington Post front-page article by reporter Barton Gellman (and based on interviews with US weapons hunters and Iraqi weapons scientists and heretofore publicly unavailable Iraqi documentation) detailed the tremendous gap between the Bush rhetoric and the reality. It's not that Hussein was not interested in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But Gellman found that Iraq's programs in these areas were either in suspension or far from advanced and that--most important of all--they were not even close to producing actual weapons. The two key paragraphs of his piece read:

"[U.S. weapons] investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war--that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones. In public statements and unauthorized interviews, investigators said they have discovered no work on former germ-warfare agents....The investigators assess that Iraq did not, as charged in London and Washington, resume production of its most lethal nerve agent, VX, or learned to make it last longer in storage. And they have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a 'grave and gathering danger' by President Bush and a 'mortal threat' by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s."

"A review of available evidence, including some not known to coalition investigators and some they have not made public, portrays a nonconventional arms establishment that was far less capable than U.S. analysts judged before the war. Leading figures in Iraqi science and industry, supported by observations on the ground, describe factories and institutes that were thoroughly beaten down by twelve years of conflict, arms embargo and strangling economic sanctions. The remnants of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile infrastructures were riven by internal strife, bled by schemes for personal gain, and handicapped by deceit up and down lines of command. The broad picture emergingfrom the investigation to date suggests that, whatever its desire, Iraq did not possess the wherewithal to build a forbidden armory on anything like the scale it had before the 1991 Persian Gulf War."

This is a far cry from the Bush administration's prewar shout that Hussein was neck-deep in WMDs. Today, the Carnegie Endowment on International Piece released a report, WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications that complements Gellman's article. It notes that Iraq's nuclear arms program had been suspended for years and that Iraq had focused on preserving a dual-use chemical weapons capability and perhaps a similar capability concerning biological weapons. (Preserving a dual-use capability--worrisome, yes--is much different from amassing a stockpile.) The Carnegie paper also reports that Iraqi nerve agents had lost most of their potency and that Iraq's large-scale chemical weapons production capabilities had been destroyed by the Persian Gulf War and U.N. inspections.

Perhaps the Carnegie paper can be dismissed as the I-told-you-so product of policy wonks who were opposed to the war and who had favored more intrusive inspections. But the administration's own actions indicate there isn't much there there in Iraq. Today The New York Times reports that the administration has withdrawn 400 members of its weapons-hunting team in Iraq--a signal there isn't that much work for them. And the chief weapons hunter in Iraq, David Kay, has said he may well leave his job soon--another sign that a big score is not anticipated.

There's more. Two nights earlier, Stuart Cohen, the vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council who supervised the production of a prewar National Intelligence Estimate that concluded Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, went on Nightline to defend the CIA's work on Iraq's WMDs. He said he "remained convinced that the work we did was well-grounded." But he also said "we judged that[Hussein] did not have nuclear weapons--indeed, would not have them until very late in the decade." That was not how Bush, Cheney and company depicted the supposed nuclear threat from Hussein. Their remarks made it seem as if Hussein had a major program under way.

At the end of the show, Nightline host Ted Koppel asked Cohen "how much of a threat" Iraq had posed to the United States. Cohen replied: "We, as I said, indicated that he did not have nuclear weapons. And that while he was in violation of UN resolutions, his missiles could not have reached that far. We were concerned about unmanned aerial vehicles. And at least theoretically, there was a concern at the possibility that unmanned aerial vehicles could be brought within reach of the United States and used. We were also concerned about unconventional delivery of chemical and biological weapons. The ability of Iraqi intelligence agencies to, perhaps, bring something in undetected and use it." Note that Cohen did not mention that "we" were "concerned" that Hussein would slip a weapon of mass destruction to al Qaeda. That was the heart of Bush's case for war--yet now Cohen does not even refer to it as a worry. The CIA should have been "concerned" about the theoretical possibilities Cohen mentioned--although U.S. Air Force intelligence had discounted the threat from unmanned aerial vehicles. But Bush presented a dire, concrete threat assessment to the public, not theoretical concerns.

As of now there is no clear evidence the weapons were there--and no indication Bush is ready to concede he hyped the threat, knowingly or not. The case continues to grow that the Iraqis' denials about WMDs (as incomplete and self-serving as they were) were closer to the truth than the assertions of the president of the United States.

[The above is drawn from David Corn's most recent "Capital Games" column at For the full version, click here.]

12/16/03 - Bush Snows Sawyer?

In a big year-end "get," ABC News' Diane Sawyer interviews George and Laura Bush. When Sawyer asks Bush about security for the troops in Iraq--noting that GIs are using Humvees that lack armor and that soldiers have had to ask relatives in the United States to send them flak jackets--Bush replies, "We are doing everything we can to protect the troops." Then why are GIs seeking family-issued, rather than government-issued, protective gear? Sawyer does not push Bush on this point.

She does try to press Bush on the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Sawyer asks, "Fifty percent of the American people have said that they think the administration exaggerated the evidence going into the war with Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, connection to terrorism. Are the American people wrong, misguided?" Bush replies, "No, the intelligence I operated on was good, sound intelligence." As noted in entries below, the House and Senate intelligence committees (both led by Republicans) and David Kay, the chief weapons hunter in Iraq, have each definitively stated that the prewar intelligence on Iraq's WMDs was loaded with uncertainties. But Bush continues to insist it was "solid."

In the interview with Sawyer, he refuses to concede there was any overstating of the WMD threat before the war. And he refuses to directly address the question. Instead, he repeatedly says that Saddam Hussein was a "threat." Bush maintains that Kay discovered Hussein had "a weapons program." When Sawyer notes that Bush and other administration officials "stated as a hard fact that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still," Bush counters, "What's the difference?" He continues: "The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That's, that's what I'm trying to explain to you."

But before the war, Bush asserted Hussein was an immediate threat because he already possessed such weapons, and two days before the invasion he claimed that US intelligence left "no doubt" about that. He never went before the public and said, Hussein may have weapons of mass destruction; then again, he may only have weapons programs; but there's no difference. This is disingenuousness after the fact. As is his statement, "We'll spend what's needed to protect the homeland." His administration refused to provide the $1 billion requested by port authorities to beef up security at the nation's ports. And according to a Council on Foreign Relations task force headed by former Senator Warren Rudman (a Republican), the needs of emergency first-responders in the United States are being underfunded by almost $100 billion over the next five years. Does Bush not know all this? Perhaps. In this interview, he once again acknowledges he does not read newspapers. Sawyer asks him if he might be "missing anything." No, he answers, just "missing opinion."

12/14/03 - Bush Overstates Current Threat?

During a brief speech in which he discusses the capture of Saddam Hussein, Bush says, "The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq. We still face terrorists who would rather go on killing the innocent than accept the rise of liberty in the heart of the Middle East. Such men are a direct threat to the American people." The murderous, thuggish insurgents in Iraq indeed pose a threat to the American military forces there and to anyone cooperating with the United States. But are they a "direct threat" to the American public? Before the invasion, the Ba'athists, as far as we know, had no plans to strike the "American people." Since the invasion, they have yet to mount operations aimed at the US public. They certainly are horrific and evil people who target civilians in Iraq. But a "direct threat"--rather than an indirect or down-the-road threat--to the United States? Once more, Bush is attempting to depict the war in Iraq as an essential and unavoidable step to protect Americans. But he offers more rhetoric than evidence.

Blackwater aids military with armed support
Wednesday, March 31, 2004 Posted: 9:09 PM EST (0209 GMT)

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