President Bush Lied?

“Bush Lied, People Died” is a modern mantra among the Democrats and Liberal independents in the US. It has become an article of faith among the Left that the United States’ campaign in Iraq was based on a tissue of lies by Pres. George W. Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney.

On June 5, 2008, Sen. John Rockefellerís Intelligence Committee Report was released by a 10:5 majority of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). This majority did not include the Vice Chairman, Sen. Kit Bond. The purpose of this report was to substantiate those claims of falsehood.

Before taking the country to war, this Administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the Administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence.

In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent

– Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.)
Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence

Sen. John Rockefeller and his cronies – along with the rest of the Democrats – claim that the report achieved its purpose of proving that the Administration on numerous occasions, misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq. Sadly for them even their partisan report failed to prove their case.

Conclusions Of The Report:

Conclusion 1: Statements by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor regarding a possible Iraqi nuclear weapons program were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates, but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed in the intelligence community.

The Administration’s statements were supported by the published intelligence community’s estimates of the time. The Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)’s dissent was not published in any document published outside its own agency prior to publication of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). Additionally, the Department of Energy’s dissent on the intended use of the aforementioned aluminum tubes was irrelevant; the DOE agreed that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program.

– jonolan

Conclusion 2: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s possession of biological agent, weapons, production capability, and use of mobile biological laboratories were substantiated by intelligence information.

Conclusion 3: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s possession of chemical weapons were substantiated by intelligence information.

Conclusion 4: Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

Despite Rockefeller’s claims to the contrary, the statements by senior policymakers regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities were all substantiated by the intelligence information available to them at that time.

The CIA and the INR both published reports in 2001 declaring their belief that Saddam Hussein was producing chemical weapons. In 2002 George J. Tenet, Director of the CIA, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) that the Iraq had a stockpile of at least 100 tons of chemical agents and had a covert chemical weapons production capability embedded in its civilian industry.

– jonolan

Conclusion 5: Statements by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction were generally substantiated by intelligence information, though many statements made regarding ongoing production prior to late 2002 reflected a higher level of certainty than the intelligence judgments themselves.

As with Rockefeller’s 4th conclusion, the report’s 5th conclusion is unsubstantiated and for similar reasons. The intelligence community was fairly certain that Iraq had and was expanding its stockpile weapons of mass destructions (WMD).

Additionally, I must interject that the SSCI’s decision to assess comparative levels of certainty between policymakers’ statements the intelligence community’s reports and testimonies is an exercise in sophistry that serves no interest beyond partisanship.

– jonolan

Conclusion 6: The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

This particular conclusion went beyond sophistry and into the realms of willful misinterpretation or falsehood. See the actual statement below:

“We simply do not know where all or even a large portion of Iraq’s WMD facilities are. We do know where a fraction of them are… Of the facilities we do know, not all are vulnerable to attack from the air. A good many are underground and deeply buried. Others are purposely located near population centers – schools, hospitals, mosques – where an airstrike could kill a large number of innocent people. The Iraq problem cannot be solved by air strikes alone.”

– Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Testimony before SASC, September 19, 2002
Ref: Intelligence Committee Report, page 46

I fail to see how anyone can honestly and accurately start with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s statement and end up with Rockefeller’s conclusion.

– jonolan

Conclusion 7: Statements in the major speeches and additional statements analyzed regarding Iraqi ballistic missiles were generally substantiated by available intelligence.

Conclusion 8: Statements by the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that could be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons were generally substantiated by intelligence information, but did not convey the substantial disagreements or evolving views that existed in the intelligence community.

The caveats attached to this conclusion was disingenuous at best. There was no published dissent to the position that Iraq was developing UAVs that could be used to deliver chemical or biological weapons (CBWs). The Air Force, Army and Defense Intelligence Agency concurred that the UAVs could be so modified, but did state that they were unconvinced that Iraq had as yet made those modifications.

– jonolan

Conclusion 9: The President’s suggestion that the Iraqi government was considering using UAVs to attack the United States was substantiated by intelligence judgments available at the time, but these judgments were revised a few months later, in January 2003.

The fact that these judgements were later changed is irrelevant. The purported scope of the SSCI’s Intelligence Report was to determine whether or not statements were substantiated by the intelligence the Administration had when they made those statements, not intelligence that arose later.

– jonolan

Conclusion 10: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information.

Conclusion 11: Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other al-Qa’ida-related terrorist members were substantiated by the intelligence assessments.

Conclusion 12: Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

A classic Straw Man argument – the statements by Pres. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell never claimed that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had formed any sort of partnership. Assertions were made by the Administration that Iraq was providing weapons and CBW training to al-Qa’ida. Those assertions were fully supported by the intelligence available at that time.

– jonolan

Conclusion 13: Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policymakers’ statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation or support of al-Qa’ida.

This is more of the same Straw Man argument started with Conclusion 12 above. Comments by the Administration cited throughout this section of the SSCI’s Intelligence Report nearly exactly matched what the intelligence community said about contacts. None of the policymakers’ statements cited in the report implied that the contacts led to any Iraqi support of al-Qa’ida other than the safehaven, training, reciprocal non-aggression, which was well documented in numerous intelligence assessments.

– jonolan

Conclusion 14: The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001.

Ah sophistry, the well-used and always eager tool of those with an axe to grind, how do we love thee. It is true that the US Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001; it was confirmed by a foreign intelligence service.

At the time that the Vice President Cheney commented that Atta had met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague a CIA assessment said “The Czech Government last week publicly confirmed that suspected hijacker Muhammad Atta met with former Iraqi station chief Ahrnad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani in Prague before al-Ani’s expulsion from the Czech Republic last April. Al-Ani and Atta met during 8-9 April in Prague, according to a foreign government service.”

– jonolan

Conclusion 15: Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

Frankly, this conclusion and the whole section (Pages 73-83, Intent) of the Intelligence Report its represents is worthless. Firstly, none of the cited statements and comments by the President and Vice President actually say that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give WMDs to terrorists. Secondly, the intelligence community had low confidence in its own judgments of Saddam’s intent.

In the absence of clear intelligence on Saddam’s intent, it behooved the Administration to consider what Saddam could do. Saddam Hussein had the means, motive and opportunity to supply WMDs to various terrorist groups, some of whom would gladly target the US.

– jonolan

Conclusion 16: Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

This was just a ridiculous section in its entirety. Why and how would anyone apply intelligence assessments to the completely subjective statements President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

– jonolan

My Analysis Of The Report

Many of the conclusions of the report are easily refutable using nothing but the information provided within the report itself. It’s sad when what should have been an important document is turned into Political Theater

The report presented a 2/3 majority view of the situation but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed within the SSCI. It’s ironic that Rockefeller and party are guilty of exactly what they repeatedly accused the Administration of perpetrating.

The Republican Members of the Committee submitted approximately 100 statements for review. In the final report, only those statements submitted by the Democrats were reviewed. In point of fact, the Republican minority claims it was allowed no vote or input into the final report.

Policymakers (the Republican Administration) were refused the opportunity to be heard by the Democrat led SCCI before the report was published. This was a direct departure from previous SCCI procedures – previous procedures that the The Vice Chairman, Rockefeller insisted upon during the last Congress (the 109th Congress).

Sen. Rockefeller’s report was a horribly flawed example of partisan politics. It bore little resemblance to earlier SSCI reports. I’m afraid the SSCI, once a bastion of bipartisan oversight, is now fallen into disrepute.

Related Reading:

Iraq after America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance
Act of War: A Thriller
The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books)
The Forever War
On the Hunt in Baghdad

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11 Responses to “President Bush Lied?”

  1. robert roels Says:

    Hi Jonolan;

    To me, this process took way too long to investigate regardless of outcome, and it still has not been properly handled.

    Although the figures bandied vary to the extreme, I would think that a conservative figure of 100,000 humans are no longer on this world today due to the decision for a preemptive invasion.

    If their lives are meaningless, then its OK to keep on going. I for one think they are owed justice.

    No one needs a committee to realize there were no biological weapons, if there were, they would have been used against the invaders at one point in time or another. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the biological weapons that everyone was worried about and didn’t exist.

    If the CIA is negligent, then it was the responsibility of the man at the top to check out his sources, and if there was even a hint otherwise, the Iraqis should have been given the benefit of the doubt, innocent until proven guilty.

    The only way to know is by trial. America would expect and demand this from any other nation which attacks. What makes George Bush immune?

  2. jonolan Says:

    Hi, Robert –

    I agree that the process took too long and was badly handled.

    I think that the 100K casualty figure is actually a bit low. I also think those lives matter, but I’ll be brutally honest – I much more comfortable with 100K+ Iraqi dead than with American dead.

    You’re right, nobody needs a committee to realize that there turned out to be no WMDs or CBWs. That wasn’t the point of the report though. Rockefeller’s report was on whether or not the Administration misrepresented or ignored the intelligence they were presented before the war.

    I don’t believe that they did misrepresent it – as my conclusion-by-conclusion commentary probably clearly showed. Sadly, that intelligence data was wrong. That’s the nature of such data; it’s based on rumor, informants, contacts, and analysis of disparate parts of a huge puzzle.

    I also don’t know how Bush could be expected to check out those sources. The general consensus was that Saddam still had CBW stockpiles and was striving for nuclear weapons as well. How could the Administration doublecheck these facts? I don’t know of any way to do so.

    It’s not about “due process of law.” It’s about protecting the US and its people in a post 9/11 world. There seemed to be creditable evidence that Saddam was a threat. It wasn’t in any way a “sure thing,” but the potential cost of ignoring the threat was fairly high.

  3. robert roels Says:

    Hi Jonolan;

    The case as you represented it is accurate enough. If they were unaware of the inaccuracies and depended solely on intelligence given to them, they are innocent.

    I appreciate your honesty vis a vis Iraqi versus American dead, and I would concur as my children are American.

    However, when Colin Powell made his presentation in respect to mobile manufacturing of biological weapons, I knew by looking at him he was lying. He knew it, but he was ordered to do it. At that moment I sympathized with him and he lost my respect somewhat too, as the cost in this case was tremendous. I would have resigned before making that presentation.

    One afternoon, before the war, an American, an Israeli ( a former Mossad agent), and myself were discussing this at lunch. We all concurred Saddam was not a threat to America.

    If we could figure that out without the resources available to the President, what the hell went wrong? For that reason, they must try the people at the top, if for no other purpose than prevention in the future.

    Regards

    Robert

  4. jonolan Says:

    Robert,

    I’m going to assume – please correct me if I’m wrong – that you and and your compatriots concluded that Saddam was not a direct threat to the US. I ask because I and my friends – ex and current US SpecOps – concluded exactly that – Saddam was not a direct threat to the US. We concluded though that his providing material aid and comfort to anti-US terrorists caused him to be a indirect threat to the US.

    I bring this up because that indirect threat engendered by providing safe havens and training to terrorists is the same thing as the motivation the US had for removing the Taliban from Afghanistan – something there have been few complaints about from within the US.

    As far as a trial is concerned, what charges would anyone bring against Bush? We do not as a rule charge rulers for waging war. We only charge them based on the goals of those wars and the methods employed in prosecuting them. Even at Nuremberg the only charges were those pertaining to specific actions, not the fact that Hitler invaded his neighbors.

  5. expatbrian Says:

    I’m not sure I believe what I’m reading here. If WMD’s and harboring Al Queada terrorists were the main reasons for the invasion as the administration told us, and if both have been proven false, repeatedly by all of the experts whose job is was to determine that, then why are we still there killing Iraqis and being killed in the process?

    What possible right do we have to invade a sovereign nation just because they don’t adhere to US policy? There are countries all over the world who call us the enemy and even those who harbor terrorists of their own but we are not invading them.

    This president and all others have a primary duty, per their oath of office, to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States. Bush has violated that oath repeatedly. But I think the worst crime of this administration is the loss of international reputation and honor that it’s behavior has been directly responsible for.

    I wear a very large, very colorful tatoo of an American eagle with the letters USA in the middle on my shoulder. I have it because I love my country. I cover it when I go out, not because I am afraid of being shot by some extremist but because I am ashamed of the behavior of my government and the blatantly arrogant and violent manner it employs to further its agenda.

    I live overseas, in a nation friendly to the United States. And I read the international press. The admiration that people once had for the US is gone. It has been replaced with either fear and suspicion or amusement. Why? Because we have been exposed as a country that does not practice what it preaches.

  6. jonolan Says:

    Saddam’s WMDs were proven to be nonexistent – my guess is they were moved to Syria – but later intelligence did prove that Saddam had links to over a 100 different terrorist cells and groups, though no direct link to Al Qaeda was found.

    The Intelligence Report only addresses whether or not the Administration misrepresented the available intelligence when we went into Iraq. It has nothing to do with why we’re still there. We’re still there because we couldn’t just remove the Iraqi government and leave. That would have been even worse – or at least I believe that to be the case.

  7. in2thefray Says:

    I posted today on this in my Monday Mount Up. A relevant and interesting article from the LATimes

  8. rayon soleil Says:

    @ Jonolan

    You said : “I much more comfortable with 100K+ Iraqi dead than with American dead. ”

    Bravo Jonolan! You are no different from those who you called racist and bigot.
    For me whoever got killed, it’s everyone’s lose.

    I like comment from Expat Brian…he is fully aware of what his country’s image in international ‘eyes’.

  9. jonolan Says:

    rayon soleil,

    Of course I’m more comfortable with Iraqi – or any foreign – deaths than I am with American casualties. Foreigners aren’t me or my family. I agree that it’s everybody’s loss, but we’d ALL prefer the loss not to include our own loved ones.

  10. expatbrian Says:

    Thats a cop out Jonolan. Your loved ones have a CHOICE in the matter. They don’t have to be part of the American military presence in Iraq. The Iraqi people, on the other hand do not have that choice. They live there and have to do the best they can to survive the bombing and shooting. And they have to do that because Bush and his criminal cronies lied to give them a false justification to invade that country.

    You can put any spin on it you want to. Bush is a criminal, his war is based on lies, his legacy will be that of the worst president in our history, and he is directly responsible for the SHAME that all true Americans should feel by his behavior.

    From the loss of habeas corpus, to free speech zones, to secret prisons to monitoring of phones and emails. He has stolen the very rights that make America a free country, all in the name of security.

    I think it was Ben Franklin who said that those who give up liberty in the name of security, deserve neither.

  11. jonolan Says:

    Brian, the American casualties I was afraid of were civilian causalities of terrorists supplied and trained by Saddam. If we were talking about military casualties my opinion would be far different; they, like myself understood the risks of their career choice.

    BTW: Sorry for the long delay in responding. Life kind of reared up and demanded attention for a while.

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