A recently published study by the Center for Public Integrity documents 935 false statements by officials in the Bush administration in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
Since the summer of 2003 when US inspectors admitted finding no weapons of mass destruction and fabrications about Al Qaeda and Saddam were demonstrated false, Bush and his folks claimed that they too were the victims of faulty intelligence, which, I guess, is another false statement.
But the CPI report shows that indeed the 935 false statements before the war and hundreds after the invasion was launched were not just statements reflecting bad intelligence. The intelligence was clear: there was no evidence for the certainty with which administration officials made their claims, no evidence to make the administration's case for war a "slam dunk." And certainly not worth the price of 4,000 US lives, as many as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and the trillions it will cost us and our next generation.
According to a press statement by CPI, Bush and Powell delivered the most false statements about the case for war with 260 and 254 respectively.
While for most people this information may not be new and many post-invasion accounts have exposed the administration's role in cooking intelligence and manipulating the media to help spread these 935 lies, it is a compelling study that documents the administration's systematic effort to start a war. It also will be a permanent page in the history of the Bush administration.
Part of what made this pattern of lying remarkably successful was the failure of the big media to dig into the stories, press sources, take risks, or demand to see real evidence. I don't know if the fifth estate as a whole was "complicit" consciously in starting the war, but they sure did nothing to stop it. They went with the flow. Don't make waves and you could get a book deal. Meanwhile, without access to official sources or to secret insider sources, the independent media seemed to have their finger on the pulse of the truth about the war.
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