Recently the hunt for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in Iraq came to an end, nearly two years after President Bush started the war against Iraq. The top CIA weapons hunter, who served with the Iraq Survey Group said that violence in Iraq, coupled with a lack of new information, led them to fold up the effort shortly before Christmas.
In this latest report, these U.S. inspectors contradicted nearly every prewar assertion about Iraq made by top Bush administration officials. Their findings will stand as the ISG's final conclusions and will be published later this spring. It appears that the Bush team is trying to trickle this revelation out in small pieces in the hope that no one will notice its huge importance and how it implicates the White House in the most massive deception foisted upon the American Congress and people in recent history.
Before the war, knowledgeable sources were saying that Iraq did not present a threat to the American people. Scott Ritter, the former chief United Nations weapons inspector, who spent seven years in Iraq performing detailed investigations into Iraq's weapons program, publicly stated that no capability for producing weapons existed in Iraq. Ritter told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "The Bush administration has provided the American public with little more than rhetorically laced speculation. There has been nothing in the way of substantive fact presented that makes the case that Iraq possesses these weapons or has links to international terror, that Iraq poses a threat to the United States of America worthy of war." Ritter provided the Senate with great detail about the total destruction of Iraq's weapons and weapons' capacity during his tenure in Iraq.
A few days before Congress voted to give the president the authority to declare war, the CIA released a report that said that Iraq presented no threat to the United States and that attacking Iraq would increase the danger to the United States. Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, found no weapons in the final few months before the war and asked for an extension of time. Instead, the Bush administration rushed to war based on the false premise that Iraq had WMDs.
In the propaganda campaign leading up to the war, the Bush administration made continuous assertions about WMDs in Iraq, including a statement by Vice President Cheney on Aug. 8, 2002: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." On Sept. 26, 2002, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said, "There is already a mountain of evidence that Saddam Hussein is gathering weapons for the purpose of using them. And adding additional information is like adding a foot to Mount Everest." In order to further raise American fears, Bush's National Security Advisor Condi Rice intoned over and over that the "smoking gun could become a mushroom cloud."
Much of the mainstream media and the majority of Congress stepped into line, in spite of these very dubious and unsubstantiated claims. The TV networks failed to investigate Bush's allegations and played a major role in drumming up support for war, thus becoming complicit in the lie.
What must we learn as a nation from this disastrous lie about WMDs? What can we do now?
The present war and everything that has resulted from the invasion of Iraq was built on the lie that Iraq had WMDs. Either the Bush Administration knew it was lying or, because it was intent on war, convinced itself of the presence of WMDs in spite of the evidence.
The lie that Iraq had WMDs was a major breach of trust between the Bush administration and the American people. Americans and members of Congress need to be very skeptical of all future statements on all issues by the Bush administration.
The war and the atrocities that have been committed in the name of the American people have increased anger toward Americans and have increased the possibility of terrorist attacks against us. Bush administration policies have made Americans less safe, rather than more safe.
The United States government and the American people are responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians.
Continuing to occupy Iraq is in violation of international law and must be ended. Control of Iraq's political and economic system must be given to the Iraqi people. The United States must withdraw entirely, including relinquishment of all military bases. As long as the U.S. military occupies Iraq, the United States will exert control, and elections and Iraqi independence will be a sham.
Unless we take the time and energy to examine what happened in the lead-up to the war and the ways that the people of this country were manipulated to support the war, history will repeat itself. Is Iran the next target on the Bush agenda?
What can we do now? Ask our congressional representatives and senators to join 16 courageous members of Congress who wrote a letter to the president on Jan. 12, calling on him to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (see
www.unitedforpeace.org). Demonstrate against the war. Join the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in organizing against the war, (303) 444-6981 ext. 2. Become active. Talk to your friends, faith communities, colleagues and acquaintances. It's up to us to end the atrocity in Iraq and bring the troops home.
Carolyn Bninski is with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder.
© 2005 The Daily Camera