By Vincent Bugliosi
There is direct evidence that President George W. Bush did not honorably lead this nation, but deliberately misled it into a war he wanted. Bush and his administration knowingly lied to Congress and to the American public — lies that have cost the lives of more than 4,000 young American soldiers and close to $1 trillion.
A Monumental Lie
In his first nationally televised address on the Iraqi crisis on October 7, 2002, six days after receiving the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a classified CIA report, President Bush told millions of Americans the exact opposite of what the CIA was telling him -a monumental lie to the nation and the world.
On the evening of October 7, 2002, the very latest CIA intelligence was that Hussein was not an imminent threat to the U.S. This same information was delivered to the Bush administration as early as October 1, 2002, in the NIE, including input from the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies. In addition, CIA director George Tenet briefed Bush in the Oval Office on the morning of October 7th.
According to the October 1, 2002 NIE, “Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW [chemical and biological warfare] against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger case for making war.” The report concluded that Hussein was not planning to use any weapons of mass destruction; further, Hussein would only use weapons of mass destruction he was believed to have if he were first attacked, that is, he would only use them in self-defense.
Preparing its declassified version of the NIE for Congress, which became known as the White Paper, the Bush administration edited the classified NIE document in ways that significantly changed its inference and meaning, making the threat seem imminent and ominous.
In the original NIE report, members of the U.S. intelligence community vigorously disagreed with the CIA’s bloated and inaccurate conclusions. All such opposing commentary was eliminated from the declassified White Paper prepared for Congress and the American people.
The Manning Memo
On January 31, 2003, Bush met in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a memo summarizing the meeting discussion, Blair’s chief foreign policy advisor David Manning wrote that Bush and Blair expressed their doubts that any chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would ever be found in Iraq, and that there was tension between Bush and Blair over finding some justification for the war that would be acceptable to other nations. Bush was so worried about the failure of the UN inspectors to find hard evidence against Hussein that he talked about three possible ways, Manning wrote, to “provoke a confrontation” with Hussein. One way, Bush said, was to fly “U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, [falsely] painted in UN colors. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach” of UN resolutions and that would justify war. Bush was calculating to create a war, not prevent one.
Denying Blix’s Findings
Hans Blix, the United Nation’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, in his March 7, 2003, address to the UN Security Council, said that as of that date, less than 3 weeks before Bush invaded Iraq, that Iraq had capitulated to all demands for professional, no-notice weapons inspections all over Iraq and agreed to increased aerial surveillance by the U.S. over the “no-fly” zones. Iraq had directed the UN inspectors to sites where illicit weapons had been destroyed and had begun to demolish its Al Samoud 2 missiles, as requested by the UN. Blix added that “no evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found” by his inspectors and “no underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found so far.” He said that for his inspectors to absolutely confirm that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) “will not take years, nor weeks, but months.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief UN nuclear inspector in Iraq and director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the UN Security Council that, “we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.”
The UN inspectors were making substantial progress and Hussein was giving them unlimited access. Why was Bush in such an incredible rush to go to war?
Hussein Disarms, so Bush … Goes to War
When it became clear that the whole purpose of Bush’s prewar campaign — to get Hussein to disarm — was being (or already had been) met, Bush and his people came up with a demand they had never once made before — that Hussein resign and leave Iraq. On March 17, 2003, Bush said in a speech to the nation that, “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict.” Military conflict — the lives of thousands of young Americans on the line — because Bush trumped up a new line in the sand?
The Niger Allegation
One of the most notorious instances of the Bush administration using thoroughly discredited information to frighten the American public was the 16 words in Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union speech: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The Niger allegation was false, and the Bush administration knew it was false.
Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador to Iraq, was sent to Niger by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate a supposed memo that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake (a form of lightly processed ore) to Iraq by Niger in the late 1990s. Wilson reported back to the CIA that it was “highly doubtful” such a transaction had ever taken place.
On March 7, 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei told the UN Security Council that “based on thorough analysis” his agency concluded that the “documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic.” Indeed, author Craig Unger uncovered at least 14 instances prior to the 2003 State of the Union address in which analysts at the CIA, the State Department, or other government agencies that had examined the Niger documents “raised serious doubts about their legitimacy — only to be rebuffed by Bush administration officials who wanted to use them.”
On October 5 and 6, 2002, the CIA sent memos to the National Security Council, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and to the White House Situation Room stating that the Niger information was no good.
On January 24, 2003, four days before the president’s State of the Union address, the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, which oversees all federal agencies that deal with intelligence, sent a memo to the White House stating that “the Niger story is baseless and should be laid to rest.”
The 9/11 Lie
The Bush administration put undue pressure on U.S. intelligence agencies to provide it with conclusions that would help them in their quest for war. Bush’s former counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, said that on September 12, 2001, one day after 9/11, “The President in a very intimidating way left us — me and my staff — with the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word that there was an Iraqi hand behind 9/11.”
Bush said on October 7, 2002, “We know that Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high level contacts that go back a decade,” and that “Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gasses.” Of Hussein, he said on November 1, 2002, “We know he’s got ties with Al Qaeda.”
Even after Bush admitted on September 17, 2003, that he had “no evidence” that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11, he audaciously continued, in the months and years that followed, to clearly suggest, without stating it outright, that Hussein was involved in 9/11.
On March 20, 2006, Bush said, “I was very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack on America.”
Vincent Bugliosi received his law degree in 1964. In his career at the L.A. County District Attorney’s office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, including 21 murder convictions without a single loss. His most famous trial, the Charles Manson case, became the basis of his classic, Helter Skelter, the biggest selling true-crime book in publishing history. The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder is available May 27.