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Malcom Lagauche


December 17, 2005

​​​​On March 16, 2004, a report (Iraq on the Record) was published. It was the compilation of public statements made by various U.S. government officials about Iraq that later were proven to be false. Because of the large size of the report, only portions are included here. These encapsulations prove the deceit of the administration in its justification for invading Iraq.

There has been little publicity of this report. What should make it damning is that it was prepared by a U.S. Congressman, Henry Waxman, who voted in favor of invading Iraq. The report is concise and comprehensive. The writers compiled a database of the hundreds of misleading statements and outright lies told by the administration. The portion here only delves into the nuclear weapons aspect. In addition, the full report goes on to discuss the lies about Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs as well as the nonexistent ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq on the Record

The Bush Administration’s Public Statements on Iraq

Prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman


Number of Misleading Statements

The Iraq on the Record database contains 237 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq that were made by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice. These statements were made in 125 separate appearances, consisting of 40 speeches, 26 press conferences and briefings, 53 interviews, 4 written statements and 2 congressional testimonies. Most of the statements in the database were misleading becaause they expressed certainty when none existed or failed to acknowledge the doubts of intelligence officials. Ten of the statements were simply false.

Timing of the Statements

The statements began at least a year before the commencement of hostilities in Iraq, when Vice President Cheney stated on March 17, 2002, "We know they have biological and chemical weapons." The Administration’s misleading statements continued through January 22, 2004, when Vice President Cheney insisted: "there’s overwhelming evidence that there was a connecton between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government." Most of the misleading statements about Iraq — 161 statements — were made prior to the start of the war. But 76 misleading statements were made by the five Administration officials after the start of the war to justify the decision to go to war.

The 30-day period with the greatest number of misleading statements was the period before the congressional vote on the Iraq war resolution. Congress voted on the measure on October 10 and October 11, 2002. From September 8 through October 8, 2002, the five officials made 64 misleading statements in 16 public appearances. A large number of misleading statements were also made during the two months before the war began. Between January 19 and March 19, 2003, the five officials made 48 misleading statements in 26 public appearances.

Topics of the Statements

The 237 misleading statements can be divided into four categories. The five officials made 11 statements that claimed that Iraq posed an urgent threat; 81 statements that exaggerated Iraq’s nuclear activities; 84 statements that overstated Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons capabilities; and 61 statements that misrepresented Iraq’s ties to al-Qaeda.

Statements by President Bush

Between September 12, 2002 and July 17, 2003, President Bush made 55 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 27 separate public appearances. On October 7, 2002, three days before congressional votes on the Iraqi war resolution, President Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, with 11 misleading statements, the most by any of the five officials in a single appearance.

Some of the misleading statements by President Bush include his statement in the January 28, 2003, State of the Union address that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa;" and his statement on May 1, 2003, that "the liberation of Iraq … removed an ally of al-Qaeda."

Statements by Vice President Cheney

Between March 17, 2002, and January 22, 2004, Vice President Cheney made 51 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 25 separate public appearances.

Some of the misleading statements by Vice President Cheney include his statement on September 8, 2002, that "we do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs … to build a nuclear weapon;" his statement on March 16, 2003, that "we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons;" and his statement on October 10, 2003, that Saddam Hussein "had an established relationship with al-Qaeda."

Statements by Secretary Rumsfeld

Between May 22, 2002, and November 2, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld made 52 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 23 separate public appearances.

Some of the misleading statements by Secretary Rumsfeld include his statement on November 14, 2002, that within "a week, or a month" Saddam Hussein could give his weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda, which could use them to attack the United States and kill "30,000, or 100,000 … human beings:" his statement on January 29, 2003 , that Saddam Hussein’s regime "recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa;" and his statement on July 13, 2003, that there "was never any debate about whether Iraq had a nuclear program."

Statements by Secretary Powell

Between April 3, 2002, and October 3, 2003, Secretary Powell made 50 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 34 separate public appearances.

Secretary Powell sometimes used caveats and qualifying language in his public statements. His statements that contained such cautions or limitations were not included in the database.. Nonetheless, many of Secretary Powell’s statements did not include these qualifiers and were misleading in their expression of certainty, such as his statement on May 22, 2003, that "there is no doubt in our minds now that those vans were designed for only one purpose, and that was to make biological weapons."

Statements by National Security Advisor Rice

Between September 8, 2002, and September 28, 2003, National Security Advisor Rice made 29 misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 16 separate public appearances.

Although Ms. Rice had the fewest public appearances and the fewest misleading statements, she had the highest number of statements — 8 — that were false. The false statements included several categorical assertions that no one in the White House knew of the intelligence community’s doubts about the president’s assertion that Iraq sought to import uranium from Africa.


The misleading statements by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice fall into four general categoriesL (1) statements suggesting that Iraq posed an urgent threat, (2) statements regarding Iraq’s nuclear activities, (3) statements regarding Iraq’s biological and chemical weapons capabilities, and (4) statements regarding Iraq’s support of al-Qaeda.

Statements that Iraq Posed an Urgent Threat

On February 5, 2004, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet categorically stated that the U.S. intelligence community "never said there as an 'imminent’ threat." Yet this was not the impression conveyed by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice in their public statements on Iraq. In 10 different appearances, these five officials made 11 statements claiming that Iraq posed an urgent threat.

For example:

  • President Bush stated on October 2, 2002: "the Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency … (I)t has developed weapons of mass death."
  • President Bush stated on November 20, 2002: Today the world is … uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed by Iraq,"
  • Vice President Cheney stated on August 26, 2002: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is not doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

In one instance, Secretary Rumsfeld said hat Iraq could give weapons of mass destruction to al-Qaeda in "a week, or a month," resulting in the deaths of up to 100,000 people. On November 14, 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld stated:

Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years, or a week, or a month, and if Saddam Hussein were to take his weapons of mass destruction and transfer them, either use them himself, or transfer them to the al-Qaeda, and somehow the al-Qaeda were to engage in an attack on the United States, or an attack on U.S. forces overseas, with a weapon of mass destruction, you’re not talking about 300, or 3,000 people potentially being killed, but 30,000, or 100,000 … human beings."

Statements About Iraq’s Nuclear Capabilities

In their potential for destruction and their ability to evoke horror, nuclear weapons are in a class by themselves. As Dr. David Kay, former special advisor to the Iraq Survey Group, testified on January 28, 2004: "all of us have and would continue to put the nuclear weapons in a different category. It’s a single weapon that can do tremendous damage, as opposed to multiple weapons that can do the same order of damage … I think we should politically treat nuclear as a difference."

For precisely this reason, the Administration’s statements about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities had a large impact on congressional and public perceptions about the threat posed by Iraq. Many members of Congress were influenced by the Administration’s nuclear assertions than by any other piece of evidence. Rep. Waxman, for example, wrote to President Bush in June 2003 that in voting for the Iraq war resolution: "Like other members, I was particularly influenced by your views about Iraq’s nuclear intentions. Although chemical and biological weapons can inflict casualties, no threat is greater than the threat of nuclear weapons." Numerous members of Congress stressed Iraq’s nuclear threat in their floor statements explaining their support of the resolution.

Despite the significance of the nuclear issue, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, and National Security Advisor Rice repeatedly misrepresented the nuclear threat posed by Iraq. The five officials made 49 separate public appearances in which they made misleading statements about Iraq’s nuclear threat. In these appearances, they made a total of 81 misleading statements regarding Iraq’s nuclear activities.

These misleading statements generally fall into one of three categories: (1) misleading statements about the status of Iraq’s nuclear program: (2) misleading statements about the purpose of aluminum tubes sought by Iraq, and (3) misleading statements about Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Africa

Claims About the Status of Iraq’s Nuclear Program

Prior to the war, there were significant divisions within the intelligence community about whether Iraq had resumed efforts to make nuclear weapons. In his speech on February 2, 2004, Mr. Tenet explained that there was not unanimity on whether Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear program and that these differences were described in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "let me be clear where there were differences, the Estimate laid out the disputes clearly." In particular, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) concluded in the NIE that "(t)he activities we have detected do not, however, add to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing what INR would consider to be an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquire nuclear weapons." INR added: "Lacking persuasive evidence that Baghdad has launched a coherent effort to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program, INR is unwilling to speculate that such an effort began soon after the departure of UN inspectors." The INR position was similar to the conclusions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which concluded there was "no indication of resumed nuclear activities … nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities."

These doubts and qualifications, however, were not communicated to the public. Instead, the five Administration officials repeatedly made unequivocal comments about Iraq’s nuclear program. For example, President Bush said in October 2002 that "(t)he regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons and is seeking the materials required to do so." Several days later, President Bush asserted that Saddam Hussein "is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon."

Vice President Cheney made perhaps the single most egregious statement about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities, claiming: "we know that he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." He made this statement just three days before the war. He did not admit until September 14, 2003, that his statement was wrong and that he "did misspeak."

President Bush and others portrayed the threat of Saddam Hussein waging nuclear war against the United States or its allies as one of the most urgent reasons for preemptively attacking Iraq. Administration officials used evocative language and images. On the eve of congressional votes on the Iraq war resolution, for example, President Bush stated: "Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Following the commencement of military operations in Iraq, Administration officials continued to make misleading statements regarding Iraq’s nuclear program. For example, Secretary Rumsfeld denied on July 13, 2003, that there was "any debate" about Iraq’s nuclear capabilities within the Administration. "We said they had a nuclear program. There was never any debate."

Since the war ended, the Iraq Survey Group has been unable to find evidence of the nuclear program described by the five officials. On October 2, 2003, David Kay reported that "we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material." In his January 28, 2004, testimony, Dr. Kay reported that "(I)t was not a reconstituted , full-blown nuclear program." He added, "As best as had been determined … in 2000 they had decided that their nuclear establishment had deteriorated to such point that it was totally useless." His conclusion was that there was "no doubt at all" that Iraq had less of an ability to produce fissile material in 2001 than in 1991. According to Dr. Kay, the nuclear program had been "seriously degraded" and the "activities of the inspectors in the early '90s did a tremendous amount."

Claims about the Aluminum Tubes

In 2001 and 2002, shipments of aluminum tubes to Iraq were intercepted. This discovery led to an active debate within intelligence agencies about the intended use of the tubes.

Numerous experts believed the tubes were for conventional rockets rather than a nuclear development program. In his February 5, 2004, speech, Mr. Tenet explained that disagreement over the purpose of the aluminum tubes was "a debate laid out extensively in the estimate and one that experts still argue over." The agency with the most technical expertise in this area, the Department of Energy, believed the tubes were likely not part of a nuclear enrichment program, stating in the NIE that "the tubes probably not part of the program." The International Atomic Energy Agency agreed, concluding: "There is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment."

In addition to dissent from the Energy Department and international inspectors, the State Department also expressed formal reservations, stating in the NIE that "INR is not persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge rotors." Instead, the State Department accepted the "judgement of technical experts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who have concluded that the tubes Iraq seeks to acquire are poorly suited for use in gas centrifuges." The State Department explained its position in detail:

The very large quantities being sought, the way the tubes were tested by the Iraqis, and the atypical lack of attention to operational security in the procurement efforts are among the factors, in addition to the DOE assessment, that lead INR to conclude that the tubes are not intended for use in Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

According to the NIE, "INR considers it far more likely that the tubes are intended for another purpose, most likely the production of artillery rockets."

These doubts about the use of the aluminum tubes were not conveyed by Administration officials, however. Instead, the aluminum tubes became one o the two principal pieces of information cited by the Administration to support the claim that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice made 10 misleading statements in 9 public appearances about the significance of the aluminum tubes.

For example, Ms. Rice stated on September 8, 2002: "We do know that there have been shipments going into … Iraq … of aluminum tubes that … are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge progtams." Similarly, Vice President Cheney said on September 8, 2002: "(Saddam Hussein) now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs … (s)pefically aluminum tubes." These statements were misleading because they did not present the possibility that the tubes were suitable or intended for another purpose, or acknowledge that key U.S. experts doubted that the tubes were intended to make nuclear bombs.

In one instance, Secretary Powell did acknowledge that some experts disputed that the aluminum tubes were intended for nuclear uses. In his February 5, 2003, address before the United Nations, Secretary Powell stated: "By now, just about everyone has heard of these tubes and we all know that there are differences of opinion. There is controversy about what these tubes are for. Most U.S. experts think they are intended to serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium." Even in that statement, however, Secretary Powell did not make clear that experts from the Department of Energy and the State Department’s own intelligence division played a significant role in the analysis of this issue and in formal and deliberate dissents had disputed the view that the tubes would likely be used to enrich uranium.

On another occasion, Secretary Powell cited the tubes as evidence of pursuit of nuclear weapons, without noting that the intended use of the tubes was under dispute, asserting: "We also know that Iraq has tried to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes, which can be used to enrich uranium in centrifuges for a nuclear weapons program."

By January 27, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency had reached the tentative conclusion that the aluminum tubes "would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq and, unless modified, would not be suitable for manufacturing centrifuges." Following the occupation of Iraq, the Iraq Survey Group did not find evidence indicating that the tubes were intended for nuclear use. In his January 28, 2004, testimony, Dr. Kay announced: "It is my judgement, based on the evidence that was collected … that it’s more probable that those tubes were intended for use in a conventional missile program, rather than in a centrifuge program."

Claims about Uranium from Africa

Another significant component of the Administration’s nuclear claims was the assertion that Iraq had sought to import uranium from Africa. Ad one of a few new pieces of intelligence, this claim was repeated multiple times by Administration officials as proof that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. In total, the five Administration officials made misleading assertions about Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Africa in 7 statements in 6 public appearances.

In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, President Bush stated: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities or uranium from Africa … Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

Other officials echoed this statement. In a January 23, 2003, New York Times op-ed piece, Ms. Rice argued that Iraq had lied in its December 2002 declaration, noting: 'the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad." In his opening remarks in his televised press conference on January 29, 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld stated: "(Saddam Hussein’s) regime … recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

These claims that Iraq was seeking to import uranium were misleading. The documentary evidence behind the assertions was declared to be "not authentic" by the International Atomic Energy Agency. An envoy, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was sent by the CIA to investigate the alleged purchase. Ambassador Wilson concluded that it was "highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place," and on his return, he provided detailed briefings to the CIA and to the State Department African Affairs Bureau.

When evidence emerged that the importation claim was false, Ms. Rice claimed that the White House had no knowledge of these doubts. She asserted unequivocally that no senior White House officials were informed about questions about the uranium claim prior to its use in the State of the Union Address. She stated that: "(t)he intelligence community did not know at that time, or at levels that got to us … that there was serious questioning about this report." As she put it on another occasion:

(H)ad there been even a peep that the agency did not want the sentence in or that George Tenet did not want that sentence in, that the Director of Central Intelligence did not want it in, it would have been gone.

Ms. Rice’s claims were simply false. The CIA sent two memos to the National Security Council — one of which was addressed to Ms. Rice personally — warning against including the item in a speech by the President. Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet also "argued personally" to Ms. Rice’s deputy national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, "that the allegation should not be used" by the President. Further, in the October 2002 NIE provided top White House officials, the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research had stated that claims that Iraq sought to acquire uranium in Africa were "highly dubious."

Ultimately, the White House was forced to admit its error. On July 9, 2003, White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said that the statement about importing uranium from Africa "should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech. The White House minimized the significance of the Administration’s use of the Niger claim, arguing that it was "only a small part of an 'overwhelming’ case that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States."

:: Article nr. 18788 sent on 18-dec-2005 03:00 ECT


Link: www.malcomlagauche.com/id1.html

:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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