January 23, 2004
St. Petersburg Times

Fighting Words

In this year's State of the Union address, President Bush made no compelling case that he spoke the truth about Iraq last year. Nor did he apologize.

A Times Editorial

A year ago, President Bush used his State of the Union address to sound a frightening alarm about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The president told the nation that Iraq had amassed 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas. He also charged that Saddam Hussein's regime had sought to acquire "significant quantities" of refined uranium and special aluminum tubes whose only practical use was as part of a program to develop nuclear weapons.

And he offered a chilling warning that only one vial from those vast stockpiles of weapons could "bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."

That dire, detailed warning of a looming threat to our national security served as the Bush administration's justification for war in Iraq. Of course, no weapons of mass destruction of any kind have been found there. No anthrax. No botulinum. No VX. In fact, U.S. weapons inspectors have not even found significant evidence of programs that might eventually have led to the development of weapons. And the allegations concerning Iraq's efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program were proved to have been based on fraudulent evidence. . . .

The president made it clear Tuesday night that he doesn't think he owes the American people or the world an explanation for the exaggerated claims he made a year ago in building a pretext for war. Since then, hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis have died in that war, and Iraq's future remains uncertain. American credibility has been a casualty, too.

As the president himself said with no apparent sense of irony: "For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible."


Editorial, "George Bush Has Presided Over a Vast Catalogue of Failure and Division," The Independent, January 20, 2004

"The 50 lies, exaggerations, distortions and half truths that took this country to war," The Independent, January 25, 2004

[ . . . al-Libi is the al-Qaeda person picked up at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and extraordinarily rendered to Egypt to be tortured at the United States behest. Al-Libi is the one reported to have linked al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein in a false confession that was the result of this torture that Saddam Hussein was training al-Qaeda in bomb making, poisons, and deadly gases. President Bush used this "evidence" in a speech on October 7, 2002 in Cincinnati in his push to get Congressional approval of the resolution authorizing the President to go to war in Iraq. Al-Libi later disavowed that "evidence," but by then we were in Iraq.--Benjamin Davis, "The Man Who Knew Too Much? A Convenient Suicide in a Libyan Prison," Jurist, May 12, 2009]

back button