10 Appalling Lies We Were Told About
By Christopher Scheer, AlterNet
June 27, 2003
"The Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America
and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and
- George Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in a speech in Cincinnati.
There is a small somber box that appears in the New York Times every
day. Titled simply "Killed in Iraq," it lists the names and military
affiliations of those who most recently died on tour of duty.
Wednesday's edition listed just one name: Orenthial J. Smith, age 21, of
Allendale, South Carolina.
The young late O.J. Smith was almost certainly named after the
legendary running back, Orenthal J. Simpson, before that dashing
American hero was charged for a double-murder. Now his namesake
has died in far-off Mesopotamia in a noble mission to, as our president
put it on March 19, "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the
world from grave danger."
Today, more than three months after Bush's stirring declaration of war
and nearly two months since he declared victory, no chemical, biological
or nuclear weapons have been found, nor any documentation of their
existence, nor any sign they were deployed in the field.
The mainstream press, after an astonishing two years of cowardice, is
belatedly drawing attention to the unconscionable level of administrative
deception. They seem surprised to find that when it comes to Iraq, the
Bush administration isn't prone to the occasional lie of expediency but, in
fact, almost never told the truth.
What follows are just the most outrageous and significant of the dozens
of outright lies uttered by Bush and his top officials over the past year in
what amounts to a systematic campaign to scare the bejeezus out of
LIE #1: "The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its
nuclear weapons program ... Iraq has attempted to purchase
high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment need for gas
centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear
weapons." - President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati.
FACT: This story, leaked to and breathlessly reported by Judith Miller
in the New York Times, has turned out to be complete baloney.
Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the
tubes could not be used for enriching uranium. One intelligence analyst,
who was part of the tubes investigation, angrily told The New Republic
that, "You had senior American officials like Condoleezza Rice saying
the only use of this aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that
on television. And that's just a lie."
LIE #2: "The British government has learned that Saddam
Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from
Africa." - President Bush, Jan.28, 2003, in the State of the Union
FACT: This whopper was based on a document that the White House
already knew to be a forgery thanks to the CIA. Sold to Italian
intelligence by some hustler, the document carried the signature of an
official who had been out of office for 10 years and referenced a
constitution that was no longer in effect. The ex-ambassador who the
CIA sent to check out the story is pissed: "They knew the Niger story
was a flat-out lie," he told the New Republic, anonymously. "They [the
White House] were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this
to make their case more strongly."
LIE #3: "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear
weapons." - Vice President Cheney on March 16, 2003 on "Meet
FACT: There was and is absolutely zero basis for this statement. CIA
reports up through 2002 showed no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear
LIE #4: "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level
contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." - CIA
Director George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002
and echoed in that evening's speech by President Bush.
FACT: Intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between
Saddam and al-Qaeda in the early '90s, but found no proof of a
continuing relationship. In other words, by tweaking language, Tenet and
Bush spun the intelligence180 degrees to say exactly the opposite of
what it suggested.
LIE #5: "We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members
in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases ... Alliance with
terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without
leaving any fingerprints." - President Bush, Oct. 7.
FACT: No evidence of this has ever been leaked or produced. Colin
Powell told the U.N. this alleged training took place in a camp in
northern Iraq. To his great embarrassment, the area he indicated was
later revealed to be outside Iraq's control and patrolled by Allied war
LIE #6: "We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq
has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that
could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across
broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of
using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions
targeting the United States." - President Bush, Oct. 7.
FACT: Said drones can't fly more than 300 miles, and Iraq is 6000
miles from the U.S. coastline. Furthermore, Iraq's drone-building
program wasn't much more advanced than your average model plane
enthusiast. And isn't a "manned aerial vehicle" just a scary way to say
LIE #7: "We have seen intelligence over many months that they
have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have
dispersed them and that they're weaponized and that, in one case
at least, the command and control arrangements have been
established." - President Bush, Feb. 8, 2003, in a national radio
FACT: Despite a massive nationwide search by U.S. and British forces,
there are no signs, traces or examples of chemical weapons being
deployed in the field, or anywhere else during the war.
LIE #8: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a
stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons
agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." -
Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN
FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this massive
stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet our own
intelligence reports show that these stocks - if they existed - were well
past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder.
LIE #9: "We know where [Iraq's WMD] are. They're in the area
around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north
somewhat." - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30,
2003, in statements to the press.
FACT: Needless to say, no such weapons were found, not to the east,
west, south or north, somewhat or otherwise.
LIE #10: "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the
UN prohibited." - President Bush in remarks in Poland, published
internationally June 1, 2003.
FACT: This was reference to the discovery of two modified truck
trailers that the CIA claimed were are potential mobile biological
weapons lab. But British and American experts - including the State
Department's intelligence wing in a report released this week - have
since declared this to be untrue. According to the British, and much to
Prime Minister Tony Blair's embarrassment, the trailers are actually
exactly what Iraq said they were, facilities to fill weather balloons, sold
to them by the British themselves.
So, months after the war, we are once again where we started - with
plenty of rhetoric and absolutely no proof of this "grave danger" for
which O.J. Smith died. The Bush administration is now scrambling to
place the blame for its lies on faulty intelligence, when in fact the
intelligence was fine, it was their abuse of it which was "faulty."
Rather than apologize for leading us to a preemptive war based on
impossibly faulty or shamelessly distorted "intelligence" or offering his
resignation, our sly madman in the White House is starting to sound
more like that other O.J. Like the man who cheerfully played golf while
promising to pursue "the real killers," Bush is now vowing to search for
"the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how
long it takes."
On the terrible day of the 9/11 attacks, five hours after a hijacked plane
slammed into the Pentagon, retired Gen. Wesley Clark received a
strange call from someone (he didn't name names) representing the
White House position: "I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home
saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored
terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein,'" Clark told
Meet the Press anchor Tim Russert. "I said, 'But - I'm willing to say it,
but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence.'"
And neither did we.
Christopher Scheer is the managing editor of AlterNet.org. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org