This study released by the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism reviews statements made by President Bush and his administration members prior to the war in Iraq and concludes that, since many of those statements turned out to be wrong, we were led into war under “false pretenses.” Or, basically, that we were lied into war.
The media, as you might expect, is jumping behind this story with the sort of enthusiasm they’re not showing on the story about their willingness to be propaganda ministers for the Clintons.
Study: False statements preceded war
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”
[…] The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.
“It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida,” according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. “In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003.”
With the war in Iraq going relatively well, I guess the media is going to go back and re-fight the battle over the decision to go to war. As though that weren’t already so much water under the bridge.
Anyway, the title of the report in question is “False Pretenses: Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.” The problem, of course, is that there’s a difference between lying about something and just being wrong.
Case-in-point from the study itself:
It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose “Duelfer Report” established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.
Conclusions of reports issued after the invasion of Iraq can prove that the Bush administration was wrong about aspects of its case for war, but they can’t prove that the Bush administration lied. But this is the problem we’ve had with the anti-war left since the invasion was over. They claim that Bush “lied us into war,” but the truth was that some of the intelligence Bush used to make his decision for war was flawed. It was inaccurate.
That reality a) doesn’t mean that Bush’s use of it was a lie (who else but our intelligence agencies is the President to use to make war decisions?) and b) isn’t exactly Bush’s fault given the gutting of our intelligence agencies under the Clinton administration.
But at this point the argument is probably moot. Most people have already made up their minds about Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. Those who believe the President “lied us into war” are likely to champion this report as incontrovertible proof that they were right all along. Those who believe the President was merely mistaken in some aspects of his case for war are likely to dismiss this report as yet another bit of anti-war hyperbole this time in the form of an objective “study.”