February 2, 2004
The Toronto Sun

Liars or Fools?

by Eric Margolis

NEW YORK - `We were all wrong,' David Kay, the White House's chief weapons hunter and longtime war booster, admitted last week. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as the US and Britain had long alleged.

Claims Iraq had nuclear weapons, death rays, vans of death, drones of death, mobile germ labs, poison gas factories, hidden weapons depots, long-ranged missiles, links to al-Qaida - all were false. The only thing real: Iraq's oil.

President George W. Bush fevered warnings that Iraq posed an `imminent threat' to all mankind were nothing more than hot air.

If Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction(wmd's), as it long insisted, we must draw one of two conclusions.

1. President George Bush, and Secretaries Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld, lied outrageously about the global threat they claimed Iraq posed, and gravely deceived Congress and the American people. The real reason for the Iraq adventure was oil piracy and promoting Greater Israel.

2. Or, they were misinformed almost beyond belief and must be judged totally incompetent to lead a great nation.

If Bush and his team of chest-thumping, self-proclaimed national security experts were truly so misinformed about Iraq's weapons and capabilities, then they launched a war by mistake, and presided over the two biggest nationals security fiascos since Pearl Harbor: the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.

Bush's plans announced this week for an investigation of intelligence leading to the war is nothing more than a whitewash designed to defer this explosive issue until well after elections.

President Saddam Hussein, whom Bush repeatedly branded a `liar,' was in fact telling the truth all along when he said all of Iraq's old weapons systems had been destroyed. It was Bush and Blair who were not telling the truth.

Saddam should hire lawyer Johnny Cochrane and sue the US and Britain for all they're worth.

So, take your pick. The Iraqi war either was the Mother of All Lies, or the Mother of All Fiascos.

Confronted by these ugly facts, Bush tried to re-brand the unprovoked war against Iraq by claiming it was justified because Saddam was such a horrid man. What arrant hypocrisy. When Saddam committed his worst deeds - the 1980's - he was a close US ally, secretly supported by Washington and London with arms, intelligence, technicians, and cash.

Now, the White House is trying to blame CIA for the Iraq fiasco. CIA director George Tenet certainly wronged his agency and nation by not going public to debunk White House war propaganda over Iraq.

But active and retired CIA officers kept warning the public and media (including this writer) that intelligence on Iraq had been deeply corrupted and politicized by a cabal of pro-war neo-conservative ideologues in the Pentagon and Vice President's office. They were ignored.

A shadowy Pentagon intelligence unit, the Office for Special Projects, was created by pro-Israel neo-conservatives to whip up war fever against Iraq. The OSP fed fake or wildly exaggerated reports from Israeli intelligence to the White House and Pentagon, which were then trumpeted by neo-conservative media.

A former senior Israeli intelligence official recently confirmed his nation had been a `full partner' in generating `flawed' intelligence supplied to pro-war factions in US and British intelligence. In other words, Israel's far right Likud Party fed fake intel to Likud's American supporters embedded in the Pentagon, Vice President's Offcie, and National Security Council.

This column has maintained for the past ten years that a campaign of lies and disinformation was being waged against Iraq. Though I detested Saddam, whose brutal secret police threatened to hang me, I was incensed to see western democracies fabricating war propaganda worthy of Nazi propagandist, Dr Goebbles.

I watched with disgust as so-called `Iraq experts' and neo-conservative propagandists, few of whom had ever been to Iraq, warned night after night on US TV about the `deadly threat' from Iraq. Genuine Mideast specialists were systematically excluded from US media commentary. As one reader just noted, the US media was not `embedded,' it was in bed with the government.

By challenging war propaganda, I became the object of viscous attacks by fellow journalists and media pundits in the US and Canada. Each week, I was flooded by hate email.

I even left twice weekly shows at TV Ontario - after nine years - after the station producers tried to censor my views on Iraq and kept prompting a pro-war, neo-con party line on TVO's programs.

`Don't be on the losing side,' a close friend warned last year. `Why risk your career and reputation by insisting Iraq has no wmd's and saying the US invasion was wrong and illegal'

Why? Because I knew Iraq had no wmd's and no means of delivering them, and I passionately hate propaganda of all kinds - worst of all, when it comes from democratic governments.

`Do you feel vindicated,' a radio show host asked me last week . . . `you predicted a year ago that no wmd's would be found in Iraq.'

Not vindicate. Just dismayed. Dismayed by the continuing widespread indifference - or even approval - by many Americans of the aggression against Iraq that violated international law and basic norms of civilized behavior. Dismayed by the cowardly attitude of the US Congress and the mainstream media. And deeply concerned by growing hatred for the US around the globe.

Too few Americans seem troubled their president either lied or blundered them into a horrible mess in Iraq, so far costing 523 Americans dead, nearly 10,000 casualties, and US $200 billion for 2003-04, not to mention the deaths of thousands of Iraqis, and current the nightmarish mess in Iraq.

This is an historic malfeasance far exceeding in gravity Nixon's Watergate scandal or Bill Clinton's prevarications.

The war fever, and hatred of Muslims and foreigners fostered by the Bush Administration continues to grip America. I am not comparing the US in 2004 to Nazi Germany, but one begins to understand how Germans, another educated, highly civilized people, were driven in the 1930's by a campaign of fear and lies into supporting a policy of aggression, religious hatred, and racism.

Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster, and author of War at the Top of the World - The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Tibet which was reviewed in The Economist, May 13, 2000

Rahul Mahajan, "UN Resolution or Not, This War Violates International Law," The Wisdom Fund, March 13, 2003

"CIA and DOD Attempted To Plant WMD In Iraq,", June 21, 2003

Kim Hill's explosive 2003 interview with John Pilger | 1News Archive

Paul Waldman, "Fraud: The Strategy Behind the Bush Lies and Why the Media Didn't Tell You," Sourcebooks Trade (2004)

Neil Mackay, "Former Bush Aide: US Plotted Iraq Invasion Long Before 9/11," The Sunday Herald, January 11, 2004

"Iraq War: Bush Lied and the Media Didn't Tell You," The Wisdom Fund, February 1, 2004

Sidney Blumenthal, "There was no failure of intelligence, The Guardian (UK), February 5, 2004

Scott Ritter, "Not Everyone Got it Wrong on Iraq's Weapons, International Herald Tribune, February 6, 2004

Eric Margolis, "The real voice of America, Toronto Sun, February 9, 2004

Sarah Hall and Richard Norton Taylor, "Blix says war leaders acted like salesmen, Guardian, February 9, 2004

Rupert Cornwell and Ben Russell, "Backtrack by Bush over case for war on Saddam, Independent, February 9, 2004

Andrew Greely, "Bush playing us for fools on WMD, Chicago Sun-Times, February 13, 2004

Bill Nichols, "UN: Iraq had no WMD after 1994, USA TODAY, March 2, 2004

Warren P. Strobel, Jonathon S. Landay, John Walcott, "Hussein ties to al Qaeda appear faulty, Miami Herald, March 3, 2004

Anne Penketh and Andrew Grice, "Blix: Iraq war was illegal, Independent, March 5, 2004

Antony Barnett and Martin Bright, "War chief reveals legal crisis, The Observer, March 7, 2004

VIDEO: "Pilger on the US and terrorism," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, March 10, 2004

"U.S. Unloading WMD in Iraq," Tehran Times, March 13, 2004

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, "Iraq on the Record: The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq," U.S. House of Representatives, March 16, 2004 (Alternate Source)

[ "Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said. "We all said, 'But no, no, al-Qaida is in Afghanistan.'"--"Ex-Adviser: Iraq Considered After 9/11,", March 20, 2004]

[Gen. Hussein Kamal - Saddam's son-in-law - had defected to Jordan in 1995, carrying with him thousands of documents on Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" program. Kamal was extensively interrogated by the CIA, and by Rolf Ekeus of the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq and Maurizio Zifferero of the IAEA Action Team.

Basically, Kamal claimed all Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" and the makings thereof had been destroyed.--Gordon Prather, "What do you mean 'we' were wrong?, World Net Daily, March 20, 2004]

David Rose, "Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war," The Observer, April 4, 2004

[Mohammed ElBardei said he was concerned about the disappearance of nuclear material from the occupied country.--Hossam Al-Sayed, "Parts Of Iraqi Nuclear Reactor 'Resettled': Sources,", April 19, 2004]

Gordon Prather, "Tenet's 'Slam-Dunk',", April 27, 2004

John Dean, "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush," Little Brown & Company (April 2004)

"The lying game," Independent, June 1, 2004

"U.S. Trucks Carrying Radioactive Materials Intercepted In Iraq-Kuwait Border ," Tehran Times, June 15, 2004

James Risen, "C.I.A. Held Back Iraqi Arms Data, U.S. Officials Say," New York Times, July 6, 2004

Dana Priest and Dafna Linzer, "Panel Condemns Iraq Prewar Intelligence: Senate Report Faults 2002 Estimate Sent To Hill, Accuses the CIA of 'Group-Think' ," The Washington Post, July 10, 2004

Alan Cowell, "British Report Faults Prewar Intelligence but Clears Blair," New York Times, July 15, 2004

Sidney Blumenthal, "Learn the code: The Senate's report is very revealing about Bush and his apostles - but the clues are buried deep," Guardian, July 15, 2004

"Two reports, same conclusion," The Economist, July 18, 2004

[In February 2002, Graham writes, Gen. Tommy Franks, then conducting the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan (and later to speak in prime time on behalf of Bush's candidacy at the Republican National Convention in New York), pulled the senator aside to explain that important resources in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, such as Predator drones, were being quietly redeployed to Iraq. "He told me that the decision to go to war in Iraq had been made at least 14 months before we actually went into Iraq, long before there was authorization from Congress and long before the United Nations was sought out for a resolution of support," Graham tells Salon.--Mary Jacoby, "Sen. Graham: Bush covered up Saudi involvement in 9/11,", September 8, 2004]

Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, "Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan," Guardian, September 16, 2004

Richard Norton-Taylor, "The weekend's leaked No 10 papers have revealed the depth of official fears about the legality of the Iraq invasion - and the disaster it presaged," Guardian, September 21, 2004

Douglas Jehl, "U.S. Report Finds Iraqis Eliminated Illicit Arms in 90's," New York Times, October 7, 2004

Scott Ritter, "The source Duelfer didn't quote: The head of the Iraq Survey Group knows regime change was the aim," Guardian, October 9, 2004

Robin Cook, " This week's casualty: the legal case for war in Iraq: It can only be a matter of time before the invasion is challenged in court," Guardian, October 15, 2004

"Iraq war legal advice published," BBC News, April 28, 2005

[The U.N. chief weapons inspector, Demetrius Perricos, said his agency shares the U.S. belief that the there is no evidence Iraq ever resumed its weapons-of-mass-destruction program after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.--Colum Lynch, "UN Security Council Dissolves Unit Looking for Iraqi Arms," Washington Post, June 30, 2007]

[When Saad Tawfiq watched then-US Secretary of state Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations on February 5, 2003, he shed bitter tears as he realized he had risked his life and those of his loved ones for nothing. As one of Saddam Hussein's most gifted engineers, Tawfiq knew that the Iraqi dictator had shut down his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in 1995 - and he had told his handlers in US intelligence just that.--"Saad Tawfiq told his handlers that saddam had shut down wmd program," Agence France Presse, February 5, 2008]

[Then, in 1995, Gen. Hussein Kamal - director of Iraq's nuke, chem-bio and missile programs and Saddam Hussein's son-in-law - defected to Jordan.

Kamal was "debriefed" in Jordan by Rolf Ekeus, Chairman of UNSCOM and Chief Inspector Maurizio Zifferero of the IAEA.

It turned out that shortly after the Gulf War cease-fire, Kamal - at Saddam Hussein's direction - had ordered the destruction of all Iraqi chem-bio weapons, the makings thereof and the missiles to deliver them. He also ordered the destruction of those facilities - that had not already been destroyed in the Gulf War - associated with Saddam's attempt to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Quoth Kamal; "Nothing remained."

A military aide who defected with Kamal supported Kamal's assertions. Furthermore, Kamal had brought thousands of supporting documents with him.--Gordon Prather, "Scott Ritter: Reflections," antiwar.comh, March 22, 2008]

Jonathan Schwarz, "Joe 'Sweetheart' Lieberman's Long History of Lying About Iraq and WMD," Huffington Post, January 20, 2011

[Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, told the Guardian he fabricated tales of mobile bio-weapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime, from which he had fled in 1995. . . .

Curveball claimed he was first exposed as a liar as early as mid-2000, when the BND travelled to a Gulf city, believed to be Dubai, to speak with his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, Dr Bassil Latif.

The Guardian has learned separately that British intelligence officials were at that meeting, investigating a claim made by Curveball that Latif's son, who was studying in Britain, was procuring weapons for Saddam.

That claim was proven false, and Latif strongly denied Curveball's claim of mobile weapons trucks and another allegation that 12 people had died during an accident at a secret bio-weapons facility in south-east Baghdad.--Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd, "Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war," Guardian, February 15, 2011]

[ . . . who is the United States to say that a country should or shouldn't have nuclear weapons? When did the countries of the world appoint America to be the world's policeman or guardian? Why does the United States tolerate the massive amount of nuclear weapons stockpiled in France, China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom? Shouldn't the United States invade those countries as well? Isn't every county in the world justified in obtaining nuclear weapons to protect themselves against the one country that was the first and only country to actually use them -- the United States of America?--Laurence M. Vance, "What If Iraq Had Weapons of Mass Destruction?,", February 23, 2011]

Jonathan Owen, "Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all," Independent, April 1, 2012

'Why did you destroy this country?': Iraqis reflect on brutal legacy of 2003 invasion, ITV News, March 21, 2023

Copyright © 2004 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
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