Sunday, January 31, 2016

From Anti-war Slogan to Journalistic Fact

The notion that President Bush 43 "lied us into war with Iraq" is a persistent error that just will not die. This author--who served as co-chairman of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction--notes that AP reporter Ron Fournier has repeated the lie recently and truly seems to believe it. There was no lying involved yet this belief will not die in the face of facts.

Repeat after me, both sides of the aisle here and our allies abroad--even those opposed to war--accepted the idea that Saddam Hussein had WMD programs and weapons. Writes Laurence Silberman:

The intelligence community’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stated, in a formal presentation to President Bush and to Congress, its view that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction—a belief in which the NIE said it held a 90% level of confidence. That is about as certain as the intelligence community gets on any subject.

Recall that the head of the intelligence community, Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, famously told the president that the proposition that Iraq possessed WMD was “a slam dunk.” Our WMD commission carefully examined the interrelationships between the Bush administration and the intelligence community and found no indication that anyone in the administration sought to pressure the intelligence community into its findings. As our commission reported, presidential daily briefs from the CIA dating back to the Clinton administration were, if anything, more alarmist about Iraq’s WMD than the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.

The "lying" issue is so dishonest that you have to use the WayBack Machine to remember that many opponents of the war with Iraq did not dispute that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. These anti-war people said that Saddam's possession of chemical weapons did not justify overthrowing his regime--which was official Bill Clinton-era law, recall--by invasion.

Yet after we found Saddam did not have actual post-1991 chemical weapons on hand, the anti-war people declared that the lack of chemical weapons invalidated the reason to invade!

Remember, the Persian Gulf War ceasefire required Saddam to prove to us that he had disarmed--it did not require us to prove Saddam had not disarmed.

You want to talk lies? Let's talk lies.

Saying Bush lied us into a war with Iraq is a mistake so persistent that it surely borders on lying to make at this point.

The fact is, the only way to keep Saddam Hussein or one of his evil spawn from getting chemical weapons was to destroy the Saddam regime.

Silberman is astonished that the "Bush lied" belief has gone from antiwar slogan to journalistic fact so thoroughly. Why is he shocked? It's really a short journey.

Saddam lied about WMD. And now the anti-war/journalist class lies about WMD. At least the murderous despot Saddam and his loyal minions paid the price for lying.

You wonder why I mistrust the media?

UPDATE: Eric from Learning Curve emails that Silberman is in error that the pre-war intelligence on chemical weapons in Iraq was not the basis for the legal case for war. Eric is correct on this, as he lays out.

I read Silberman's focus on WMD as the basis for the public case for war that was needed to get the American people's backing for the war. Yes, legally Saddam had to prove he had to disarm. And he did not.

But that distinction from proving Saddam had WMD was lost to the media in the years before the war as the left twisted the ceasefire requirement 180 degrees.

So when the Bush administration based our war on Saddam's possession of WMD and the means to produce them, I never believed that was the sole reason to go to war. But given that the CIA said that reason was a "slam dunk" and even Secretary of State Powell was convinced by the evidence he saw that Saddam had chemical weapons, I was content to have a reason the public could back.

Sadly, we (and everyone else) was wrong. Although the bright side is that our troops weren't hit by chemical weapons, as I worried; and the WMD didn't disperse to terrorists around the region in the post-war disorder the way some opponents of the war said could happen,

Yet once that reason was shown to be untrue, that did not unravel my other reasons for war or the legal case that Eric lays out.