Absurdities In Defending A Failed Iraq Policy

The amount of irrational writings trying to justify Bush’s disastrous policies in Iraq is amazing. Some Bush apologists, such as here, quote from Tom Nichols of the Naval War College. I wouldn’t attempt to rehash all the reasons going into Iraq at the time and in the manner which George Bush did was a huge mistake, but there are a few quick points I can’t resist commenting on.

“All this talk about “deception” regarding the question of WMD in Iraq has really turned into Monday-morning quarterbacking of the very worst kind.”

This is no Monday-morning quarterbacking. We had warned that this was a mistake during the months leading up to the war. Subsequent evidence has made the case even stronger that 1) Bush was repeatedly lying in the run up to the war, 2) Bush did not understand the situation in Iraq, and 3) the Bush Administration had no sensible plan to fight and win this war.

“First, let’s start with the one thing on which everyon–and this means everyone, including the UN, the French, and even the most angry critics of George Bush–can agree: the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction at some point.”

Of course we know we had them at one point. After all, we have the receipts. By the same logic, let’s invade Russia because they had their nuclear arsenal pointed at us at one point in the past.

“Critics of the war could argue at the time that they were destroyed, but they couldn’t have known that with any more certainty than those arguing they might be buried in the desert somewhere.”

That’s why it was essential that we continue to contain Saddam, and get the inspectors back in. Both Howard Dean and John Kerry were clear in supporting going to war if Saddam prevented with this. Of course they would have done so in a more sensible manner with both a true international coalition and a plan to win the war.

Then there’s the Clinton quotes. Supporters of the war often quote Bill Clinton but there are two major errors in this logic. Bill Clinton contained Saddam, but never went to war as Bush did. If Clinton had advocated Bush’s policies, he also would have been wrong and this still would not justify the manner in which George Bush has undermined this our national security with his disastrous policies.

While some conservatives have faced reality and admitted this war was a mistake, some continue to twist logic and the facts to justify it. Glenn Greenwald provies further examples of this.

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  1. 1
    Qwinn says:

    Wellll, let’s leave Cheney aside for the moment. (I concede you would have a stronger case there, though that is not conceding the argument re: Cheney altogether).

    The charge is that “Bush lied”, not Cheney, and the charge now seems to be specifically that Bush said that the threat was imminent.

    Now, I’m putting forward that he never said that, and have given a quote of him saying quite the opposite (and to the largest audience possible). Can you please give a specific quote of Bush saying that the threat was imminent? I’d think that’s only fair.


  2. 2
    kj says:

    Wow. I’m so glad I came back (only for a second) to find out that yet again, we’re debating what the defination of “is,” is.

    Qwinn, question: Overall, what is your point? That Bush didn’t lie? Because at this point, I’ll give you that, just to see where else you are going.

  3. 3
    Qwinn says:


    “I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to this country.” Sen. John Edwards, Feb. 24, 2002, on CNN.


    Did John Edwards lie?


  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    Re Edwards, I disagreed with his position on Iraq at the time, which is one reason I didn’t support him for the nomination.

    As to whether he lied, Edwards has changed his position and says he was wrong in his earlier statements on Iraq because of being deceived by the Bush Administration.

    Bringing up Edwards just highlights the manner in which the Bush Administration deceived Congress and the country.

  5. 5
    Qwinn says:

    You have yet to establish that Bush lied, Ron. I’m still waiting for the explicit quote by Bush that allows Edwards (who as a Senator would’ve had all the same intelligence information available to him that Bush had) to claim that he was deceived rather than deceiving.


  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    As for Bush lying on Iraq, check here:

    If I had more time I’d pick some of the better lists, but with almost 14 million choices I’ll have to save that for when I do have some time.

  7. 7
    kj says:

    Um… the Senators did not all have the same intelligence information… but we keep getting further and further away from what Clinton had to do with this..

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    As kj says, he did not have the same information. Multiple articles have also been written on this.

  9. 9
    Qwinn says:

    Bah, filter’s acting up again 🙁


  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Just one example found quickly:

    Congress doesn’t see same intelligence as president, report finds
    By Jonathan S. Landay
    Knight Ridder Newspapers
    WASHINGTON – President Bush and top administration officials have access to a much broader ranger of intelligence reports than members of Congress do, a nonpartisan congressional research agency said in a report Thursday, raising questions about recent assertions by the president.

    Bush has said that Democratic lawmakers who authorized the use of force against Iraq and now criticize the war saw the same pre-invasion intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction that he did.

    The president made that claim in recent speeches about Iraq. Support for the war has decreased, and critics have said that the administration misled the country when it relied on erroneous intelligence about Iraqi weapons programs that supported its case for war and discarded information that undermined it.

    “Some of the most irresponsible comments – about manipulating intelligence – have come from politicians who saw the same intelligence I saw and then voted to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein,” Bush said on Wednesday in his most recent speech. “These charges are pure politics.”

    The Congressional Research Service, by contrast, said: “The president, and a small number of presidentially designated Cabinet-level officials, including the vice president … have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods.”

    Unlike members of Congress, the president and his top officials also have the authority to ask U.S. intelligence agencies more extensively for follow-up information, the report said. “As a result, the president and his most senior advisers arguably are better positioned to assess the quality of the … intelligence more accurately than is Congress.”

    The CRS report identified nine key U.S. intelligence “products” that aren’t generally shared with Congress. These include the President’s Daily Brief, a compilation of analyses that’s given only to the president and a handful of top aides, and a daily digest on terrorism-related matters.

    The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    The CRS produced the report in response to a query by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a critic of Bush’s policy on Iraq. Feinstein asked about the kinds of intelligence information that are available to Congress and the White House.

    Feinstein asserted that the report’s findings underscored how critical it is for the Republican-controlled intelligence committee to complete a long-delayed inquiry into the intelligence used by the White House to make its case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    “This report goes to show that members of Congress were not seeing the same picture as the administration,” she said. “When the Senate voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in 2002, it was based on a more limited scope of prewar intelligence than was available to the administration.”

    Several post-invasion inquiries have found that U.S. intelligence agencies produced for the White House and Congress seriously flawed assessments on Iraq. The assessments erroneously concluded that Saddam was trying to revive a nuclear weapons programs and was hiding chemical and biological warfare stockpiles in violation of a U.N. ban.

    Knight Ridder also has reported that the Bush administration relied on information that wasn’t shared with Congress, including bogus claims by Iraqi defectors supplied by a former Iraqi exile group.

    Also withheld from Congress was a discredited report by a now-defunct Pentagon unit that alleged that Saddam was cooperating with the al-Qaida terrorist network. No evidence of such a link has been found.

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    I think I might have messed up. I thought I approved a post from Qwinn but now don’t see it here. I only read the first few lines before approving, but one point I believe he made was not believing that Bush had tied Saddam to 9/11.

    There was quite a stir last week when he denied having said this and many sources showed he had. At the time I recall seeing several different sites, many with different quotes. Here’s just one I found quickly at Think Progress.

  12. 12
    Qwinn says:

    Okay, since you gave me a google list, I picked this one near the top:


    Virtually every claim made in this list is itself a lie.

    Chemical weapons have been found in Iraq. They may have been old, but they have been found.

    There have been ties connecting Iraq to Al Qaeda. They may not have been “operational” ties showing them working together on a specific terrorist act, but that is a far cry from “not a shred of evidence connecting Hussein with Al Qaida”.

    The claim in that sheet about the “16 words” of the State of the Union claims that those words were based on forged documents. Bush based those words on entirely different intelligence that had nothing to do with the forged documents. Also, in fact, Joe Wilson’s report to our own intelligence services backed up what Bush said – and it is Joe Wilson who lied in his editorial (and virtually every moment since).

    Sorry, Ron, but that list is so utterly discredited on so many levels that really, you’re just proving that it is those screaming “Bush Lied” who are lying.


  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:


    I haven’t checked that particular list, but taking a reader submission from Buzzflash to refute is hardly the best source.

    As for Joe Wilson, what he said has been verified as true. Weak connections might be found between Saddam and al Qaeda but no meaningful ones such as claimed by the Bush administration. The two were adversaries, not collaberators. The old chemical weapons claim is so bogus that even the Bush administration doesn’t go along with it. They realize that if they tried to use that finding to justify war they are actually weakening their own case.

  14. 14
    Ron Chusid says:

    While the misleading claims on Iraq and al Qaeda was a hot topic recently, it has been reviewed many times. Here’s another random article I just clicked on:

    Thursday, September 18, 2003

    Bush: No Iraq link to 9/11 found
    President says Saddam had ties to al-Qaida, but apparently not to attacks


    WASHINGTON — President Bush, having repeatedly linked Saddam Hussein to the terrorist organization behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, said yesterday there is no evidence that the deposed Iraqi leader had a hand in those attacks, in contrast to the belief of most Americans.

    The president’s comments came in response to a reporter’s question about Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” program that Iraq was the “geographic base” of the terrorists behind the attacks on New York and Washington.

    Bush said yesterday there was no attempt by the administration to try to confuse people about any link between Saddam and Sept. 11.

    “No, we’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th,” Bush said. “What the vice president said was is that he (Saddam) has been involved with al-Qaida.

    “And al-Zarqawi, an al-Qaida operative, was in Baghdad. He’s the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. … There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al-Qaida ties.”

    Most of the administration’s public assertions have focused on the man Bush mentioned, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a senior Osama bin Laden associate whom officials have accused of trying to train terrorists in the use of poison for possible attacks in Europe, running a terrorist haven in northern Iraq — an area outside Saddam’s control — and organizing an attack that killed an American aid executive in Jordan last year.

    Security analysts, however, say al-Zarqawi made his way to Iraq, where his leg was amputated. . Unconfirmed reports claim he then visited northern Iraq, where a militant Islamic group affiliated with al-Qaida is encamped not far from the border with Iran.

    The group, however, far from being an ally of Saddam, sought to replace his secular government with an Islamic regime.

    A senior intelligence official, who asked not to be identified, said the information linking the group, Ansar al Islam, to Saddam comes “almost exclusively from defectors produced by the Iraqi opposition. They are not uniformly credible.”

    Bush’s statement was the latest in a series by administration officials this week that appeared to distance the White House from the widely held public perception that Saddam was a key figure in the attacks.

    Publicly, at least, Bush has not explicitly blamed the attacks on Saddam. In speech after speech, however, the president has strongly linked Saddam and al-Qaida, the terrorist organization of bin Laden, the renegade Saudi whose followers hijacked jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and rural Pennsylvania.

    In his May 1 declaration of military victory in Iraq from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, Bush said, “We have removed an ally of al-Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding.” He also said, “The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror.”

    Two months earlier, in a speech aimed at mustering public support for a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, Bush said, “The attacks of September 11th, 2001, showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction.”

    Critics have said the steady drumbeat of that message has tied Saddam to the attacks in the mind of the public. A recent poll by The Washington Post found that nearly seven Americans out of 10 believe Saddam played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, a notion the administration has done little to tamp down.

    But retired NATO commander Wesley Clark, in a little noticed appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on June 15, charged that “a concerted effort … to pin 9/11” on Saddam began in the fall of 2001, and “it came from people around the White House.” Clark, who declared his campaign for president yesterday, did not identify anyone by name.

    It was just weeks after the terrorist attacks that the first link between Saddam and al-Qaida was alleged by the administration. It came from Cheney, who said it had been “pretty well confirmed” that Mohamed Atta, the man held responsible for masterminding the Sept. 11 hijackings, had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in April 2000, an allegation congressional investigators later dismissed.

    Sunday, Cheney began the group of Bush administration officials denying any ties between Saddam and Sept. 11. He said “we don’t know” whether Saddam was connected to the attacks, but admitted, “It’s not surprising that people make that connection.”

    The vice president also said: “If we are successful in Iraq, if we can stand up a good, representative government in Iraq that secures the region so that it never again becomes a threat to its neighbors or to the United States, so it’s not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, so that it’s not a safe haven for terrorists, we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11.”

    White House National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, in an interview aired late Tuesday on ABC’s “Nightline,” said one of the reasons Bush went to war against Saddam was because he posed a threat in “a region from which the 9/11 threat emerged.” But she insisted, “We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9/11.”

    Her remarks echoed those of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during a briefing for reporters at the Pentagon earlier Tuesday. Asked if Saddam was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, Rumsfeld replied, “I’ve not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that.”

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated to reporters yesterday that the administration never directly linked Saddam to the Sept. 11 strikes.

    “If you’re talking specifically about the September 11th attacks, we never made that claim,” McClellan said. “We do know that there is a long history of Saddam Hussein and his regime and ties to terrorism, including al-Qaida.”

  15. 15
    Qwinn says:

    “As for Joe Wilson, what he said has been verified as true.”


    You’re kidding, right?

    Virtually everything Joe Wilson said has been debunked so often and so repeatedly it’s insane.

    “Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.

    Wilson’s assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

    The panel found that Wilson’s report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson’s assertions and even the government’s previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union address.”


    Dude, seriously, back away from that one fast. There is no faster way to discredit yourself completely than to defend Joe Wilson. The man was an utter fraud on countless levels, and it has been so massively documented that to argue otherwise is to discredit oneself completely.


  16. 16
    Ron Chusid says:

    I wonder if length is a factor in this plug-in. It just picked up the article I posted above as spam.

  17. 17
    Ron Chusid says:

    Wilson has been the subject to a tremendous effort by Bush supporters to discredit him. Often they misquoted what he said and refuted such claims, not Wilson’s actual accusations. In the end he has been vindicated and his charges have been shown to be correct:

    Wilson’s Iraq Assertions Hold Up Under Fire From Rove Backers

    By Holly Rosenkrantz and William Roberts

    July 14 (Bloomberg) — Two-year old assertions by former ambassador Joseph Wilson regarding Iraq and uranium, which lie at the heart of the controversy over who at the White House identified a covert U.S. operative, have held up in the face of attacks by supporters of presidential adviser Karl Rove.

    Rove is a subject of a special prosecutor’s investigation into how the name of the agent, who is Wilson’s wife, was leaked to journalists. There has been no evidence made public that Rove identified the agent to reporters. Rove’s allies are arguing that he was in fact trying to steer journalists away from taking too seriously Wilson’s criticism of President George W. Bush’s reasons for going to war in Iraq in 2003.

    The agent, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified July 14, 2003, a week after Wilson wrote an article for the New York Times about an investigative trip he took in 2002 at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency. Wilson wrote that the administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime tried to buy uranium in Africa for nuclear weapons was wrong.

    The main points of Wilson’s article have largely been substantiated by a Senate committee as well as U.S. and United Nations weapons inspectors. A day after Wilson’s piece was published, the White House acknowledged that a claim Bush made in his January 2003 state of the union address that Iraq tried to buy “significant quantities of uranium from Africa” could not be verified and shouldn’t have been included in the speech.

    While the administration was justified at the time in being concerned that Hussein was trying to build nuclear weapons, “on the specifics of this I think Joe Wilson was right,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a scholar of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    Criticism of Wilson

    Republicans are attempting to defend Rove by discrediting Wilson, saying the former ambassador misled the public about why he was sent to Niger and what he found there.

    Bush supporters such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich contend that Wilson lied in claiming that Vice President Dick Cheney dispatched him on the mission to Niger. That echoes a Republican National Committee talking-points memo sent to party officials.

    Wilson never said that Cheney sent him, only that the vice president’s office had questions about an intelligence report that referred to the sale of uranium yellowcake to Iraq from Niger. Wilson, in his New York Times article, said CIA officials were informed of Cheney’s questions.

    “The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president’s office,” Wilson wrote.

    Senate Report

    The “Wilson/Rove Research & Talking Points” memo distributed by RNC Director of Television Carolyn Weyforth contends, “Both the Senate Committee on Intelligence and the CIA found assessments Wilson made in his report were wrong.”

    Yet the Senate panel conclusions didn’t discredit Wilson. The committee concluded that the Niger intelligence information wasn’t solid enough to be included in the State of the Union speech. It added that Wilson’s report didn’t change the minds of analysts on either side of the issue, while also concluding that an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate “overstated what the Intelligence Community knew about Iraq’s possible procurement attempts.”


    Wilson is vulnerable to some criticisms. The Republican talking points say Wilson has lied about the role his wife played in his trip. In his memoir, “The Politics of Truth,” Wilson asserted his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger. “Valerie had nothing to do with the matter,” he wrote. “She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip.”

    The Senate Intelligence Committee report states that a CIA official told the panel that Plame “offered up” Wilson’s name for the Niger trip and later sent a memo to a CIA official saying her husband had good relations with leaders in Niger.

    Republicans also dismiss Wilson as a partisan because of his ties to the 2004 presidential campaign of Democrat John Kerry, the four-term U.S. senator from Massachusetts. He advised the Kerry campaign for several months on foreign policy and donated money to his race.

    The crux of Wilson’s argument in his New York Times article was that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program — a central part of the Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq — “was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”

    Backing Away

    Well before Wilson’s article was published — though after Bush’s State of the Union address — administration officials were backing off the contention that Iraq sought nuclear material from Africa.

    On Feb. 4, 2003, State Department officials gave the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency information it requested about Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Niger. It told the agency that it could not confirm the reports and had questions about specific claims.

    The next day, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence, based on U.S. intelligence, about Iraq’s prohibited weapons program to the UN Security Council. He didn’t mention Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium from Africa.

    On March 7, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the UN Security Council that the documents that detailed uranium transactions between Iraq and Niger were “not authentic” and “these specific allegations are unfounded.” On March 9, Powell acknowledged that the documents were false. The U.S. launched the invasion of Iraq on March 19.

    A White House Concession

    Finally, in July 2003, after Wilson’s piece was published, the White House conceded that the uranium assertion should not have been included in the president’s speech. Several administration officials have accepted responsibility for allowing it into the speech, including Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser and now secretary of state; Stephen Hadley, then Rice’s deputy and now the national security adviser; and then-CIA Director George Tenet.

    In October 2002, as the White House was reviewing drafts of a speech Bush would give in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, the allegation that Iraq sought “substantial amounts of uranium oxide” from Africa was removed after Tenet called Hadley to raise doubts about the information. On Oct. 5 and 6, the CIA sent memorandums to the White House expressing concerns about the Niger intelligence and differences on it between the U.S. and British spy agencies.

    Novak’s Column

    Plame’s identity was first revealed July 14, 2003, by syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who cited two unidentified administration officials as his sources for the information.

    Knowingly disclosing the identity of a covert agent is a federal crime, and that is the subject of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation. Part of that probe is seeking information about confidential sources from reporters.

    Rove’s name surfaced in a July 11, 2003, e-mail from a Time magazine reporter to his editor that was disclosed this week by Newsweek magazine. The memo says Rove gave a “big warning” about pursuing Wilson’s claims and said it was “Wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorized” Wilson’s trip to Niger, according to Newsweek.

    Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, said yesterday that Rove has done “nothing to expose him to any legal liability.”

  18. 18
    kj says:

    I think I’ll need a new day, a new set of eyes and a new cup of coffee to get into this again. We’re now talking about Joe Wilson? I understand this is important, I’m just blown away but the defense of the PNAC’s architects.

  19. 19
    kj says:

    Wasn’t it Brent Scrowcroft who wrote the letter to the editor?
    Quick google says yes and a link:

    Sorry that’s all, supper calls.

  20. 20
    Qwinn says:


    In Wilson’s first editorial, he claimed that his trip to Niger found no evidence that Iraq tried to purchase Uranium from Niger.

    But from the WaPo article I linked, we know that Wilson found the exact opposite:

    Wilson’s reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.

    “Wilson said that a former prime minister of Niger, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, was unaware of any sales contract with Iraq, but said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him, insisting that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss “expanding commercial relations” between Niger and Iraq — which Mayaki interpreted to mean they wanted to discuss yellowcake sales. A report CIA officials drafted after debriefing Wilson said that “although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to UN sanctions on Iraq.”

    “According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.”

    Given the content of Wilson’s findings when he went to Niger, on what possible honest basis could he come out and state that Bush lied?

    And then there’s this:

    “The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because “the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.”

    “Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the ‘dates were wrong and the names were wrong’ when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports,” the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have “misspoken” to reporters. The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger.”

    …which also debunks the claim made in the link I followed from what you offered.

    HIS OWN FINDINGS IN NIGER SUPPORTED THE CONTENTION THAT SADDAM TRIED TO PURCHASE URANIUM FROM NIGER. That he would then go and try to discredit that same assertion should make it obvious that he was nothing but a partisan attack dog. That you refuse to recognize this discredits you as much as it does him.

    Everything the man ever said is a lie. But I am thrilled that opponents of the war continue to try to support him – it makes it so easy to demonstrate to those who haven’t already decided to throw in with anyone who derides Bush, regardless of the facts, where they’re really coming from.


  21. 21
    Qwinn says:

    Again, another post didn’t. 🙁


  22. 22
    Ron Chusid says:

    As my last article says, “Two-year old assertions by former ambassador Joseph Wilson regarding Iraq and uranium, which lie at the heart of the controversy over who at the White House identified a covert U.S. operative, have held up in the face of attacks by supporters of presidential adviser Karl Rove.”

    There was a time I doubted him in the face of articles such as the one you posted, but as the full story ultimately came out he was vindicated.

  23. 23
    Ron Chusid says:


    Also keep in mind that a lot more information became public after your article was written, further showing the validity of Wilson’s charges. For example:


    2002 Memo Doubted Uranium Sale Claim
    By ERIC LICHTBLAU (NYT) 1068 words
    Published: January 18, 2006

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 – A high-level intelligence assessment by the Bush administration concluded in early 2002 that the sale of uranium from Niger to Iraq was ”unlikely” because of a host of economic, diplomatic and logistical obstacles, according to a secret memo that was recently declassified by the State Department.

    Among other problems that made such a sale improbable, the assessment by the State Department’s intelligence analysts concluded, was that it would have required Niger to send ”25 hard-to-conceal 10-ton tractor-trailers” filled with uranium across 1,000 miles and at least one international border.

    The analysts’ doubts were registered nearly a year before President Bush, in what became known as the infamous ”16 words” in his 2003 State of the Union address, said that Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    The White House later acknowledged that the charge, which played a part in the decision to invade Iraq in the belief that Baghdad was reconstituting its nuclear program, relied on faulty intelligence and should not have been included in the speech. Two months ago, Italian intelligence officials concluded that a set of documents at the center of the supposed Iraq-Niger link had been forged by an occasional Italian spy.

    A handful of news reports, along with the Robb-Silberman report last year on intelligence failures in Iraq, have previously made reference to the early doubts expressed by the State Department’s bureau of intelligence and research in 2002 concerning the reliability of the Iraq-Niger uranium link.

    But the intelligence assessment itself — including the analysts’ full arguments in raising wide-ranging doubts about the credence of the uranium claim — was only recently declassified as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that has sought access to government documents on terrorism and intelligence matters. The group, which received a copy of the 2002 memo among several hundred pages of other documents, provided a copy of the memo to The New York Times.

    The White House declined to discuss details of the declassified memo, saying the Niger question had already been explored at length since the president’s State of the Union address.

    ”This matter was examined fully by the bipartisan Silberman-Robb commission, and the president acted on their broad recommendations to reform our intelligence apparatus,” said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

    The public release of the State Department assessment, with some sections blacked out, adds another level of detail to an episode that was central not only to the debate over the invasion of Iraq, but also in the perjury indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

    In early 2002, the Central Intelligence Agency sent the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to Niger to investigate possible attempts to sell uranium to Iraq. The next year, after Mr. Wilson became a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s Iraqi intelligence, the identity of his wife, Valerie Wilson, a C.I.A. officer who suggested him for the Niger trip, was made public. The investigation into the leak led to criminal charges in October against Mr. Libby, who is accused of misleading investigators and a grand jury.

    The review by the State Department’s intelligence bureau was one of a number of reviews undertaken in early 2002 at the State Department in response to secret intelligence pointing to the possibility that Iraq was seeking to buy yellowcake, a processed uranium ore, from Niger to reconstitute its nuclear program.

    A four-star general, Carlton W. Fulford Jr., was also sent to Niger to investigate the claims of a uranium purchase. He, too, came away with doubts about the reliability of the report and believed Niger’s yellowcake supply to be secure. But the State Department’s review, which looked at the political, economic and logistical factors in such a purchase, seems to have produced wider-ranging doubts than other reviews about the likelihood that Niger would try to sell uranium to Baghdad.

    The review concluded that Niger was ”probably not planning to sell uranium to Iraq,” in part because France controlled the uranium industry in the country and could block such a sale. It also cast doubt on an intelligence report indicating that Niger’s president, Mamadou Tandja, might have negotiated a sales agreement with Iraq in 2000. Mr. Tandja and his government were reluctant to do anything to endanger their foreign aid from the United States and other allies, the review concluded. The State Department review also cast doubt on the logistics of Niger being able to deliver 500 tons of uranium even if the sale were attempted. ”Moving such a quantity secretly over such a distance would be very difficult, particularly because the French would be indisposed to approve or cloak this arrangement,” the review said.

    Chris Farrell, the director of investigations at Judicial Watch and a former military intelligence officer, said he found the State Department’s analysis to be ”a very strong, well-thought-out argument that looks at the whole playing field in Niger, and it makes a compelling case for why the uranium sale was so unlikely.”

    The memo, dated March 4, 2002, was distributed at senior levels by the office of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and by the Defense Intelligence Agency.

    A Bush administration official, who requested anonymity because the issue involved partly classified documents, would not say whether President Bush had seen the State Department’s memo before his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, 2003.

    But the official added: ”The White House is not an intelligence-gathering operation. The president based his remarks in the State of the Union address on the intelligence that was presented to him by the intelligence community and cleared by the intelligence community. The president has said the intelligence was wrong, and we have reorganized our intelligence agencies so we can do better in the future.”

    Mr. Wilson said in an interview that he did not remember ever seeing the memo but that its analysis should raise further questions about why the White House remained convinced for so long that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa.

    ”All the people understood that there was documentary evidence” suggesting that the intelligence about the sale was faulty, he said.

  24. 24
    Qwinn says:

    Ron, that first article’s assertion that his claims hold up sounds like wishful thinking on the part of the report writer to me. Nothing that followed backed that assertion up, as far as I could tell.

    The second article you posted is a perfect example of what you claimed war supporters were attempting to do to Wilson: “misquoted what he said and refuted such claims, not [Bush]’s actual accusations.”

    That entire article talks about how the sale actually probably didn’t take place. WHO EVER SAID IT DID? Not Bush – Bush said that Saddam -tried- to buy uranium from Niger. All the information we have backs up that he did – and Wilson’s claim in his editorial that the administration “manipulated” that intelligence is therefore fraudulent. That Niger wasn’t willing to sell it back was never, ever in dispute. No one ever claimed otherwise. That article responds to nothing and is a pure rebuttal of a straw man argument.

    Does the fact that Saddam didn’t actually succeed in buying the uranium make any significant difference? Only if “imminent threat” was your only criteria sufficient to support the war – another straw man argument. As I have pointed out, those who supported the war didn’t need an “imminent threat” to believe Saddam needed to be taken out. The fact that he was actively attempting to get uranium, successfully or not, demonstrates that he was pursuing a nuclear program in violation of every agreement and 17 UN resolutions. That’s enough for me to consider him an unacceptable threat – how can that not be enough for you?


  25. 25
    Qwinn says:

    Check the filter again, hehe, I responded.


  26. 26
    Qwinn says:

    I’ll add this to my last post (which hasn’t appeared yet).

    It’s interesting that the post claiming that Wilson’s claims “held up” is based almost entirely on the Bush Administration’s willingness to say “Fine, fine, we shouldn’t have included it.”

    Naturally, since your starting assumption is always that Bush lies and exaggerates in favor of the war, you’re going to interpret that as “Well, if they -admit- the evidence wasn’t credible, then obviously it wasn’t.”

    What I don’t think you realize is that conservatives and war supporters see it entirely opposite of the way you do. Supporters of the war are, if anything, seriously annoyed with the administration for pushing the evidence justifying the war so weakly.

    There’s tons of evidence out there that the administration could have used and failed to. The Salman Pak training camp south of Baghdad – how often did Bush mention it? Not once that I know of. Dozens of eyewitness reports from high ranking members of Saddam’s regime. Basically anything from Michael Ledeen’s The Terror Masters. The administration never used any of it. It’s been, for us, infuriating.

    We look at statements like the one that article claims, where the administration says they shouldn’t have included it, as their being rather spineless and basically just saying, “FINE, fine, for God’s sake, if it means that much to you, forget it, we’re sorry we ever talked about it”. It’s understandable – the amount of furor over those 16 words has been so disproportionate even if it had been debunked – and it hasn’t – that I can understand why they just want to get past it.

    But to me, it just confirms that the administration bought into the liberal media demand that no evidence can be allowed to be presented unless it is “smoking gun evidence”. That’s ridiculous. A mountain of circumstantial evidence is – or at least should be – good enough for most people. There’s a ton of evidence – like the Salman Pak terrorist training camp south of Baghdad – that Bush to my knowledge never once brought up. If you honestly looked at the last couple years, and if you have discussed this extensively with war supporters – you would have noticed that a LOT of the evidence and things that war supporters, conservative columnists, etc. talk about are things that the Bush administration has never even brought up. How do you fit that in with your contention that Bush would lie and exaggerate and say anything to gin up support for the war? If he would do so, why didn’t he bring up all the things that all the other war supporters do?


  27. 27
    Dave from Princeton says:

    “it just confirms that the administration bought into the liberal media”


  28. 28
    Ron Chusid says:

    The reason this “evidence” wasn’t used isn’t that they were influenced by the mythical liberal media, but that it was not credible. The right wing media spreads the stuff, but even Bush knows better than to cite what their claims.

  29. 29
    Qwinn says:

    “The reason this “evidence” wasn’t used isn’t that they were influenced by the mythical liberal media, but that it was not credible. The right wing media spreads the stuff, but even Bush knows better than to cite what their claims.”

    Really? None of it’s credible hmm? Yet all these other things you supposedly debunk all the time aren’t credible either?

    How come I’ve never seen a successful fisking of Michael Ledeen’s book? Or a successful dismissal of the Salman Pak terrorist training camp as a significant link? Believe me, I argue this with anti-war opponents all the time, and they’ve never come close. Fact is, most of the arguments and facts posed by the “right wing media” have been far superior to those that Bush has cited, and the “left wing media” has done a very lame job of debunking those arguments.

    Okay, let me ask you this. If ChimpyBushHitler is indeed this evil nefarious criminal who would make up any scurrilous lie to back up his claims, why didn’t he just plant some WMD in Iraq and have done with the whole thing? Would that really have been all that hard? Wouldn’t it have been far simpler than going through all the loops you people think he’s guilty of?


  30. 30
    Ron Chusid says:

    Are you kidding? The chances of getting caught at that are fairly high. Plus that would be a true smoking gun which would definatley get him impeached and possibly get him tried internationlly for war crimes if caught. There was no need for Bush to take a risk like that when there were enough people willing to buy the type of stuff you claim above as evidence. Calling fiction evidence does not make it so.

    It worked for quite a while, but fortunately people have been catching on to Bush in the past year.

  31. 31
    kj says:


    No time to post right now, but I want to apologize for seeming to ignore some of your posts around 68-70+… those were the posts that weren’t showing up at the time, and so now, my response (or more accurately lack of response) seems out of context.

    I will be back. (To quote Arnold… 😉 )

  32. 32
    Ron Chusid says:


    I fear we may have reached the end of meaningful discussion as we don’t have a common ground as to what the facts are.

    For as long as I can remember the conservative media like Human Events and National Review have built a following by “revealing” information which only they seem to have which proves they are right. The situation is much worse now with more conservative publications, Fox News, and the echo chamber in the rightwing blogoshere.

    They have their own alternate reality and if you accept their “facts” Bush did not lie, Saddam really had WMD and ties to al Qaeda, and Joe Wilson made everything up. Anything which contradicts this is just the dishonest liberal media.

    Going up against that mind set, there is little room for discussion. The Soviet Union would still be around if the Russians believed Pravda as much as Republicans believe the right wing noise machine.

  33. 33
    kj says:


    Thanks for the heads up. Time is precious 😉 and I didn’t really want to wade through the posts above if it was going to be on the order of what I glanced at last night; re: Joe Wilson, it really wasn’t going to be worth it. (Sorry Qwinn.)

    Did Qwinn ever explain what his point was? That GWB didn’t lie? Was that the end-all-be-all of his arguement?

    And I see SteveMG didn’t return. Ah well. As you said, “The Soviet Union would still be around if the Russians believed Pravda as much as Republicans believe the right wing noise machine.” LOL

  34. 34
    Ron Chusid says:


    No, we never saw a point to this. There are a few possibilities, none of them very meaningful:

    As is the case when I bother to check their quotes, it might have turned out that they were distorting Clinton’s views to make them appear closer to Bush’s. In that case, this is irrelevant.

    There likely was an overlap in views on WMD but this is not very relevant once you consider the different dates (Clinton may have been speaking before Saddam destroyed the WMD), they could have been discussing different types of WMD, and their responses were radically different. Even if they were correct in finding similarities between the statements of Bush and Clinton, this isn’t particularly meaningful.

    Even if Bill Clinton agreed with George Bush 100% on WMD, and even if he backed him in going to war, this would still not be very meaningful. The war would still be wrong. The claims about WMD prior to the war would still be wrong. Bush would still have deceived Congress and the public. This was Bush’s actions, and even if he had the support of Bill Clinton this would not justify his actions.

    Maybe their point was simply that Bush didn’t lie. I’d actually prefer to avoid phrasing it as a question of whether Bush lied. He left some wiggle room in many statements, but they remained misleading statements, and it doesn’t matter whether you want to call them lies or not. John Kerry leaves it as saying Bush misled the nation. The bottom line is that the Bush administration ran a sophisticated propaganda effort to mislead both Congress and the country to get us into a war under false pretenses.

    If you really want to defend Bush from the charges of lying, you would have to go with the argument that his statements weren’t lies because he believed them. While farfetched, that is a possibility. Of course that means that he was incredibly misinformed, lazy about reviewing information from government agencies, and easily misled by people like Cheney. Possible, but defending him as being incometent to this degree is hardly better than admitting he is a liar.

  35. 35
    Dave from Princeton says:


    I would assume his point was the Bush followers supreme level of required cognitive dissonance.

    As a funny side note. Either sometime in 2003 or spring of 2004, I was talking to(ok ranting at) some people at work about the right-wing and “liberal” MSM echo chamber and how amazingly clueless most of the American public are to repeatedly fall for the obvious propaganda and BS they put out for the Bush admin and GOP.

    One of the guys happened to be from Bulgaria. So I asked him if unlike so many Americans, didn’t most of the people under the old Soviet Union realize that Pravda and Tass were mostly just pumping out state propaganda?

    His answer, “But of course.”

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