Iraq war and occupationThe units find nothing. "They came up with nothing," says a former high-level US intelligence official. "Never found a single Scud."
Iraq war and occupationAl-Khazraji is favored by senior officials at the CIA to be the US's choice to succeed Saddam Hussein as ruler of Iraq, a choice not mirrored by the Pentagon or the State Department. He was previously head of the Iraqi armed forces during the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and after fleeing to Jordan in 1995, applied for political asylum in Denmark in 1998. (ABC)
"I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. ...I think it will go relatively quickly, [in] weeks rather than months." -- Dick Cheney, March 16, on Meet the Press
Iraq war and occupation(Bulgaria is the only country besides the US, Britain, and Spain, the original sponsors, to support the resolution), Bush meets with Britain's Tony Blair and Spain's Jose Maria Aznar for an "emergency summit" in the Portuguese Azores. As the summit concludes on March 16, the three reiterate their support for the invasion of Iraq. Bush says, "Tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world." The US will officially abandon its attempts to secure the resolution; it fails to pass largely because most nations do not believe Bush's assertions that Iraq has failed to meet the conditions of Resolution 1441. (CNN/Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupationThe ORHA group is in chaos; no one has an organizational chart of the various Iraqi government ministries, so they have to begin their planning without a fundamental outline of the Iraqi government structure. Some members gather to draw up an informal list of 16 key sites around the city of Baghdad that American troops should protect after the fall of the city. The list includes the central bank, the Iraqi Museum, and the Oil Ministry. Of the listed sites, few besides the Oil Ministry receive any protection. (New Yorker/Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupation"We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. ...And Saddam Hussein becomes a prime suspect in that regard because of his past track record and because we know he has, in fact, developed these kinds of capabilities, chemical and biological weapons.... We know he's out trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.... We know that he has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups, including the al-Qaeda organization. ...We have to be prepared now to take the kind of bold action that's being contemplated with respect to Iraq in order to ensure that we don't get hit with a devastating attack when the terrorists' organization gets married up with a rogue state that's willing to provide it with the kinds of deadly capabilities that Saddam Hussein has developed and used over the years." Cheney does not reveal his source for this skein of allegations, all of which turn out to be flatly wrong. When asked about Mohammed ElBaradei's statement that Iraq does not have a nuclear program, Cheney responds by insulting the competence of both ElBaradei and his IAEA.
Iraq war and occupationFormer Clinton administration counterterrorism official Daniel Benjamin agrees, saying that such a war will provide "the propaganda gains the jihadists will make in pointing to this as America attacking Islam. That will give them a big boost in recruiting and fund-raising. There are millions and millions of people whose hearts and minds are in play." And shortly after the invasion, a senior US counterintelligence official will observe that "the invasion of Iraq is already being used as a recruitment tool by al-Qaeda and other groups.... And it is an effective tool." Al-Qaeda recruitment efforts will spike in Germany, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, and other countries. "[W]e know the activity is increasing," says a member of the German interior ministry, "and the willingness to participate and to listen to radical messages is on the rise." Saad al Faqih, the head of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, a Saudi dissident group, says that within a few weeks of the invasion, over 3000 Saudi youths will leave for Iraq to fight the Americans. He calls the invasion "a gift to Osama bin Laden." Authors Eric Alterman and Mark Green later write, "The Bush administration had tried to hype a phony connection between Hussein and global terrorism before the war and was warned by its own intelligence agencies that while the connection didn't exist yet, the war Bush planned just might cause one." Counterterrorism expert Vincent Cannistraro tells a Senate panel after the invasion, "There was no substantive intelligence information linking Saddam to international terrorism before the war. Now we've created the conditions that have made Iraq the place to come to attack Americans." (Washington Post/New York Times/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
"Do not destroy oil wells." -- George W. Bush, to the people of Iraq
"Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it." -- George W. Bush, to the people of America, quoted by Frank Rich, p.218 (Rich recalls Mary McCarthy's quip about Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.'")
Iraq war and occupation...There is no question we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. ...The regime...has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda. The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other." (David Corn emphasizes the measure of Bush's lies: "Unequivocal. Unambiguous. Bush was telling the public he knew for sure. He had undeniable proof." Bush's statements of fact have all been proven to be complete and utter lies, designed to raise war hysteria and fear among Americans. Aided by the ever-compliant mainstream media, the effort is wildly successful.) Bush also issues a false assurance to the US, saying, "...the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war." In fact, Bush decided to invade Iraq over a year ago, and has been working steadily ever since to prepare for and promote the war. He issues an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, demanding that he and his two sons surrender and leave the country within 48 hours, or face an invasion: essentially a declaration of war. All diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis cease.
Iraq war and occupationAnd none of this had been a secret. The day after Bush issued his ultimatum, the Washington Post published a piece on A13 that began, 'As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even US intelligence reports.' The headline was damning: 'Bush Clings to Dubious Allegations About Iraq.' Bush's road to Baghdad -- whether the war was justified or not -- had been paved with lies." (David Corn)
Iraq war and occupationWhile some might expect Bush to defend the upcoming invasion as a liberation of the civilian populace, or praise the Iraqis for their steadfastness in surviving under Hussein, Bush has only five words: "Do not destroy oil wells." Meanwhile, Britain's Tony Blair is telling Parliament, "Our actions have nothing to do with oil or any of the other conspiracy theories put forward." When press secretary Ari Fleischer calls the mission "Operation Iraqi Liberation," or O.I.L., Karl Rove quickly has the name changed to "Operation Iraqi Freedom." (Greg Palast)
Iraq war and occupationlevel to "orange," or high. (Mother Jones)
Iraq war and occupation(See March 13 item for more information.) Garner tries to give Rumsfeld something: "Okay, maybe we can take a DOD guy here," he offers. "Maybe we can take one there." Rumsfeld wants at least a majority of his own personnel, most likely so he can assert direct authority over the ministry officials. "Trust me, I'm going to put together a good team for you," Rumsfeld tells Garner, still naming no one to replace Garner's carefully chosen selections. "It's going to be a great team." Garner protests, "[Y]ou can't get them here in time." Rumsfeld counters, "Jay, we're going to give you a much better team than you have now." Garner answers, "Okay, that's fine," hangs up, and says to his deputy, Ron Adams, "We're not going to do a damn thing. We're going to go with what we got. Don't say a word to anybody. They'll never know." (Bob Woodward)
Iraq war and occupationHe tells Congress, "[A]cting pursuant to the Constitution and [the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of October 2002] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." Bush knows full well that Iraq has no connections to the 9/11 attacks, regardless of how lustily he claims otherwise. (White House/OhMy News)
Iraq war and occupationorders military-service chiefs to provide information that will help Bush invoke national-security exemptions to environmental laws. Molly Ivins acidly comments, "Can you say, 'Using national security for political purposes?'" (Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose)
Iraq war and occupationIn his conversation with White House press aide Adam Levine, Russert says, "All I can tell you, man, is you guys better find the WMD." "You're telling me," Levine replies, then cracks, "Either that, or we'll find the CIA version of Mark Fuhrman." Fuhrman is the Los Angeles police officer accused of planting evidence in the murder investigation of O.J. Simpson. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Conservative media slantMaines, a Texan, recently told a London audience, "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." She added she felt Bush's foreign policy is alienating the rest of the world. Her remark unleashes a nationwide backlash. The group's records will be pulled by dozens of country-music stations across the country. "Out of respect for our troops, our city and our listeners, [we] have taken the Dixie Chicks off our playlists," says Gail Austin, Clear Channel's director of programming for the two Jacksonville stations owned by the media conglomerate. That's a big leap in logic, said media expert Dennis Stouse, a Jacksonville University professor and chairman of the school's department of communications. "It doesn't have anything to do with our troops or our city." Punishing Maines for speaking her mind does not fit into the American idea of democracy, he says. "We should accept the fact that there are viewpoints we don't agree with." Celebrities have as much right to make political commentary as do television pundits, he adds. Maines later apologizes for the remark, but for months, Clear Channel continues to refuse to allow its stations to play the group's songs. (Jacksonville Business Journal)
Iraq war and occupationThe fact that the reasons given have been constantly shifting also draws into question their sincerity. And there are practical, financial and moral reasons to oppose this war. Despite President Bush's rhetoric about war being his 'last choice' and that the 'choice of going to war is Saddam's,' the fact is that the U.S. is choosing to go to war. There is no immediate provocation. It is part of this Administration's new doctrine of 'pre-emptive war' which states, essentially, that we can start a war whenever we feel threatened (it's not clear if this doctrine allows other countries, similarly, to start wars when they feel threatened). But use of the term 'preemption' is misleading in this case, as there is no indication that any kind of attack by Saddam on anyone, let alone the U.S., is imminent. Saddam's military is irrelevant and doesn't pose a threat to any other country, let alone the U.S.. If you believe Saddam constitutes a more abstract or long-term threat, you might call war in this case 'preventative.' But if there is no imminent threat to the U.S., then the U.S. bears a heavy burden of proof that war is necessary and justified. It's really not up to France or any other country (or opponents of war) to make the case that war is not necessary or justified. Has President Bush met that burden? I don't think so." (Strategic News Service/Smalla)
Conservative media slantI will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." To date, O'Reilly has not made good on his pledge. (Dallas Star-Telegram)