Increasing Calls for Iraq War Probe of Bush Administration

In his just published memoirs, The Age of Deception, former chief United Nations nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei asks that George W. Bush and officials in his administration face international criminal investigation for the war in Iraq. One thing he learned from the Iraq war, he says, is that deliberate deception is not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators.

ElBaradei is harshest in is comments when criticizing the 2002-2003 drive for war with Iraq, when he and Swedish inspector Hans Blix led UN missions looking for signs that Saddam Hussein's government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. They found no evidence that Saddam Hussein actually did so.

The Egyptian nuclear expert tells about a meeting he and Blix held with leading Bush administration officials. In that meeting, held in October 2002, they met with, among others, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. They tried to convert the UN mission into a cover for what Bush officials wanted to be a United States-directed inspection process.

Both he and Blix resisted, and their teams carried out some 700 inspections of potential weapons sites in Iraq, and found no evidence supporting the U.S. claims. Former president Bush and his team rejected ElBaradei and Blix' findings, and continued to insist on Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction to justify the war against that country. The unfortunate result is that the US orchestrated a war in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed as well as several thousand U.S. soldiers.

ElBaradei's demand for Bush's prosecution is in line with several previous actions by individuals and legal and human rights organizations. In the book The Prosecution of George W. Bush, former U.S. prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argues that former president Bush intentionally misled Congress and the American people about the evidence that he claimed justified going to war with Iraq.

The strongest evidence against Bush is a speech he gave on October 7 of 2002 in which he claimed that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. and was capable of attacking America at anytime with his stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, according to Bugliosi. In addition, says Bugliosi, leading officials in former president Bush's administration edited a declassified version of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released to Congress and the public in a way that made the Iraqi threat look more ominous than what it really was.

Bugliosi also asserts that far from making serious efforts to avoid going to war, former president Bush considered the possibility of starting a war by sending U2 reconnaissance aircraft falsely painted in UN colors on flights over Iraq along with fighter escorts. If Saddam ordered them shot down, that would constitute ground for war.

In their seventh annual convention in Austin, Texas, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) stated that the growing body of evidence, including testimony from British officials in the Chilcot Inquiry, shows that Bush officials could be charged with criminal offenses against the U.S. and violations of international law for making false claims about national self-defense.

Although there are formidable legal barriers that may rule out such an investigation, ElBaradei cites the war-crimes prosecution of Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic as showing that, indeed, it should be possible to do it. As the IVAW stated, "It is time for America to hold the officials responsible for this war to account for their decisions."

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