Manipulating the Evidence to Start a War
Manipulating the Evidence to Start a War
Last November, the US Senate Intelligence Committee was pressured by the Democrats to commence the long-delayed investigation of whether the Bush administration had deliberately distorted the intelligence to justify the
A growing body of evidence, however, is already showing that the Bush administration manipulated the evidence to bolster support for its planned war.
The Bush administration claimed that Saddam Hussein tried to acquire uranium in
Jacques Baute, head of the International Atomic Agencyâ€™s Iraq Inspection unit, reached the same conclusion: the
But the Bush administration ignored the findings of its own envoy, corroborated by other American officials, and continued to use the false claim. Ambassador Wilson later told the
The Bush administration also alleged that aluminium tubes purchased by
Both the US Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), however, rejected the allegation.
Yet, Bush continued to warn against Iraqi nuclear threat. Secretary of State Colin Powell repeated the same warning before the United Nations in February 2003.
The bogus claim that the tubes were destined to help produce nuclear weapons was put forward by a certain Joe, a low level CIA agent â€œwho got his facts, even the size of the tubes, wrong.â€ (NYT. Oct 5.04).
The Senate Intelligence Committeeâ€™s report repeatedly â€œquestioned Joeâ€™s competence and integrity. It portrayed him as so determined to prove his theory that he twisted test results, ignored factual discrepancies and excluded dissenting views.â€ (NYT, Oct 3, 04).
Yet, the Bush administration went on to advertise the highly disputed claim as a positively verified fact. On August 26, 2002, Vice-President Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in
As a source, Cheney cited Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law who had defected in 1994. In fact, al- Majid had told the Americans, in 1995, exactly the opposite, namely that
The deception campaign received a boost when the New York Times devoted the lead article on the first page of its September 8, 2002 edition, to a detailed account of the aluminium tubes, citing only the Bush administrationâ€™s claims. Cheney and others in the administration went on to refer to the Timesâ€™ article as â€œevidenceâ€.
On Sept. 13, The Times made another contribution to the deception campaign. It belittled the opposition of American scientists and officials to the tubes for bombs allegation. In a six-paragraph article buried on Page A 13, it claimed: â€œ"the best technical experts and nuclear scientists at laboratories like Oak Ridge supported the C.I.A. assessments.'
After the war, the Times admitted that the claim was unfounded and blamed the Bush administration for its manipulative use of intelligence: â€œThe Bush administrationâ€, its editors wrote: â€œhad plenty of evidence that the claim was baseless; it was a long-discounted theory that had to be resurrected from the intelligence community's wastebasket when the administration needed justification for invading
On Oct. 2, 2002 the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee. It contained the following falsehood: "All intelligence experts agree that
This NIE is now considered as â€œone of the most flawed documents in the history of American intelligence.â€
But the deception worked. A majority of Americans believed that
When, at the end of 2002, United Nations arms inspectors returned to
On January 27, 2003 the IAEA officially told the UN Security Council that it had found no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program.
As American troops amassed on
Aghast by Bushâ€™s use of forgery to start a war, ambassador Wilson went public. He wrote in the New York Times (July 6, 2003): â€œI have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threatâ€.
There are now suggestions that the forgery was deliberately put together to get the
Links to Al Qaeda
To make the case for war, the Bush administration knowingly used unfounded allegations of Iraqi nuclear weapons production programs. It also claimed that
Al Libi later said that he had fabricated the claim of Iraq-Al Qaeda link to escape harsh treatment in
In November Democratic Senator Carl Levin made public information showing that a February 2002 government document had concluded that that it was probable that al-Libi "was intentionally misleadingâ€ his interrogators. The document also showed that the Defence Intelligence Agency had concluded that Al Libi was probably a liar.
Yet, months later, Bush used al-Libiâ€™s allegations as solid foundation for his claim of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link.
In a major speech in
Another evidence presented by the Bush administration for an Iraq-al Qaeda link was a meeting that allegedly took place in
An investigation by American and Czech officials proved that at the time of the alleged meeting in Prague Atta was in fact in the
Biological and Nuclear Weapons
Another leading source of dubious claim manipulatively used by the Bush administration was Iraqi engineer Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri. Al-Haideri claimed that he had helped Saddam Husseinâ€™s government to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in private villas and beneath the
The CIA officer who gave al-Haideri a polygraph test, however, concluded that al Haideri was lying. (Rolling Stone, November 17,05)
Yet, the al Haideriâ€™s lies would find their way to the American public masquerading as serious information.
Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, who enjoyed close collaborative relations with the CIA, and later with the Pentagon, contacted Judith Miller at the New York Times. Miller had served as a loyal conduit of the Iraqi National Congressâ€™s anti-Saddam Husseinâ€™s propaganda and enjoyed close relationships with influential members of the Bush administration.
She went to
The Miller story, repeated by newspapers and television stations around the world, would be used by the Bush administration as â€œproofâ€ of the existence of illegal weapons.
White House documents continued to refer to al-Haideri and his allegations up-till October 29, 2003, even though the CIA had already concluded that al-Haideriâ€™s claims were lies.
In 2004, al-Haideri was taken back to
War of Disinformation
The manipulative use of information to advance the case for war does not seem to have been the result of mistakes or negligence. Rather, it seems to have been part of a careful campaign of deception and manipulation aimed at engineering support for the war, and silencing the war critics.
Recently, the Pentagon admitted that it had hired contractors who bribed Iraqi and Arab journalists to print positive stories about the
In fact, according to documents revealed to and interviews of former and present government officials with the New York Times, the Bush administration launched a major secretive propaganda war: â€œThe campaign was begun by the White House, which set up a secret panel soon after the Sept. 11 attacks to coordinate information operations by the Pentagon, other government agencies and private contractors.â€ (NYT, December 10, 05)
Two public relations firms received contracts from the Pentagon to help in this propaganda operation. The Lincoln Group, according to Pentagon documents, planted more than a 10,000 pro-American articles in Iraqi and Arab press.
The Pentagon also awarded multi-million dollar contracts to the Rendon Group, which helped the CIA in the 1990s to set up the Iraq National Congress and to disseminate its anti-Saddam Hussein propaganda.
The Pentagon assigned to the Randon Group the mission of targeting foreign news organisations critical of US policies in the war against terror. The top target on the list was Al-Jazeerah Television network.
According to Pentagon documents recently obtained by Rolling Stone, Pentagon officials set up, in late 2001, a secret organisation called The Office of Strategic Influence whose mission it was to conduct â€œcovert disinformation and deception operations -- planting false news items in the media and hiding their origins.â€ (November 27).
The Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence was also expected to â€œ "coerce" foreign journalists and plant false information overseas.â€ Secret documents also showed that the Office was expected to â€œfind ways to "punish" those who convey the "wrong message." (Rolling Stone, November 27,05)
In a major investigation, the Los Angeles Times recently documented how another source of dubious information was seized upon by the Bush administration and presented as reliable justification for war. (November 25, 05)
Code-named Curveball, the source was an Iraqi engineer who applied for political asylum in
The CIA Berlin station chief wrote that the German intelligence officials handling Curveball had "not been able to verify" Curveball's claims. A CIA official who met Curveball in
The supervisor, the deputy chief of the CIAâ€™s Iraq task force, wrote back pointing out: "This war's going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say, and . . . the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about". (
A few days later, in his February 2003 presentation at the UN, then Secretary of State Collin Powell presented Curveballâ€™s claims as â€˜solid evidence.â€
Curveball's German handlers were appalled when Powell â€œmisstatedâ€ Curveballâ€™s claims. â€œWe were shocked,â€ said a German official, â€œWe had always told them it was not proven.â€ All of Curveballâ€™s three sources â€œturned out to be frauds.â€
Yet, the CIA still wanted to believe the Curveballâ€™s story, and â€œpunished in-house critics who provided proof that [Curveball] had lied.â€
The now discredited National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, warned with "high confidence" that
The Bush White House similarly ignored evidence to the contrary. For instance, Scott Ritter, former chief UN weapons inspectors from 1991 to1998, repeatedly affirmed that the weapons inspection regime had eliminated
Ritter later became convinced that Bush â€œwas lying to the American people to get them to go to war.â€ (Time. September 13, 2002.)
On March 7, 2003, the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, reported to the Security Council that his team had raided the sites named by Curveball, but had found "no evidence" of mobile biological production facilities in Iraq. This too was ignored. The war would be launched two weeks later.
After the invasion of
The file confirmed that Curveball had been lying all along. He was a trainee engineer, not a project chief or site manager, as the CIA had claimed. At the time Curveball claimed he had begun working on bio-warfare trucks, he had in fact been fired and was eventually jailed for a sex crime. He ended up driving a
In his memoir, former Bush speechwriter David Frum recounts that, in December 2001, after the
In his book, A Pretext for War, investigative journalist James Bamford analysed the various allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He concluded they were but a pretext for a war planned by a small group of neo-conservatives supportive of Israeli designs in the region and of the extension of American military power to the
Chief among this group are Richard Perl, former Chairman of the Policy Board at the Pentagon, Scooter Libby, Vice-President Cheneyâ€™s former chief of Staff, the former
Perl resigned after being accused of illegal activities on behalf of an Israeli arms manufacturer.
Scooter Libby has been indicted for making false statements to a federal prosecutor in connection with the disclosure of the identity of Ambassador Wilsonâ€™s wife as a CIA agent, reportedly to punish
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said: â€œThe Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," (Associated Press, Nov 1.05)
Wolfowitz, now President of the World Bank, reportedly candidly told Vanity Fair magazine: â€œWe settled on weapons of mass destruction because that was something that we could sell.â€ (Democracy Now, June 17, 05)
Douglas Feith was singled out in the Senator Karl Levinâ€™s Report (Oct 2004) for his particularly active role in the deception campaign. The report showed that: â€œon the question of an Iraqi-Qaeda axis, Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and others offered an indictment that was essentially fabricated in the office of Douglas Feithâ€¦.â€ (NYT, Oct 23, 04)
On November 17, the Pentagonâ€™s inspector general, under pressure from Democratic leaders, decided to begin an â€œinvestigation into allegations that an office run by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's former policy chief, Douglas J. Feith, engaged in illegal or inappropriate intelligence activities before the
On February 10, 2006, the senior CIA officer in charge of the
Prof. Safty is UNESCO Chair of Leadership and President of the