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June 10, 2008

Bush Lied, and Fred Hiatt Lied Too
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:20 PM *

Currently stirring up the faithful in the right-wing blogosphere is this article in the Washington Post titled ‘Bush Lied’? If Only It Were That Simple.

The subject is the long-awaited Report on Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information .

Fred Hiatt, over at the Washington Post, makes much of the phrase found in many of the conclusions of the report, “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.” What he doesn’t tell you is that the committee only examined five of George Bush’s speeches, not the totality of the administration’s statements, so this bit from Bush wasn’t addressed:

Q: Weapons of mass destruction haven’t been found. So what argument will you use now to justify this war?

Bush, May 29, 2003: We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories. You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said, Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They’re illegal. They’re against the United Nations resolutions, and we’ve so far discovered two. And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.

or this:

Bush, Sept. 17, 2003: We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th . What the Vice President said was, is that he has been involved with al Qaeda. And al Sarawak, al Qaeda operative, was in Baghdad. He’s the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. He’s a man who is still running loose, involved with the poisons network, involved with Ansar al-Islam. There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties.

Or this:

Cheney, March 16, 2003: Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators… .

Q: If your analysis is not correct, and we’re not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

Cheney: Well, I don’t think it’s likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators… . The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.

Or this:

Cheney, March 16, 2003: I’m confident that our troops will be successful, and I think it’ll go relatively quickly, but we can’t…

Q: Weeks?

Cheney: …we can’t count on that.

Q: Months?

Cheney: Weeks rather than months. There’s always the possibility of—of complications that you can’t anticipate, but I’m—I have great confidence in our troops. The men and women who serve in our military today are superb. Our capabilities as a force are the finest the world has ever known. They’re very ably led by General Tommy Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld. And so I have great confidence in the conduct of the military campaign. The really challenging part of it to some extent may come in the—in the aftermath once the military segment is over and we move to try and stand up a new government and—and turn over to the Iraqi people the responsibilities to their nation.

Or this:

Q: And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?

Rumsfeld, May 30, 2003: Not at all. If you think — let me take that, both pieces — the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.

Or this:

Q: Based on what you know right now, how close is Saddam Hussein’s government — how close is that government to developing a nuclear capability?

Rice, September 8, 2002: You will get different estimates about precisely how close he is. We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance — into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to — high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.

We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.

The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

All that aside, Hiatt is right, the Rockefeller report says, several times, that Bush administration statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates…” But he leaves out the second half of the sentence, “…but did not convey the substantial disagreements or evolving views that existed in the intelligence community.”

“Did not convey”? When you look at what they did convey, like “And let there be no doubt about it, his regime has dozens of ballistic missiles and is working to extend their range in violation of U.N. restrictions” (Donald Rumsfeld, testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, 18 Sep 2002) that’s an understatement.

In other cases, the “generally substantiated” bit is this: “Both of these statements were substantiated by intelligence assessments, however both referred to pre-Gulf War programs.”

“Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well [as] additional statements, regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policy-makers’ statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessment of the nature of those contacts, and left the impression that those contacts led to substantial cooperation between Iraq and al-Qa’ida.”

That is to say, they didn’t actually lie, but they deliberately left you with a false impression that they didn’t bother to correct.

Then there are the conclusions that don’t waffle even a little bit. For example: “Statements by the President and Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was preparing to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.”

That is to say, Bush lied.

Comments on Bush Lied, and Fred Hiatt Lied Too:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Over at the Big Orange, Hunter looks at this also.
I kind of like that idea of a transdimensional interface.

#2 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Hiatt's also conveniently forgetting the aluminum tubes.

#3 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 12:45 PM:

Ah, but you didn't.

Will you spot me a Niger memo?

#4 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 12:47 PM:

A few thousand perncious lies from a set of self-serving hubris-loaded oathbreakers, is something to not expect!?

Iranian rugs made by observant Muslims who intentionally put one flaw deliberately into the rug, in comparison are 100% flawless and structurally integral.

#5 ::: Redshift ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 01:25 PM:

Fred Hiatt's bizarre thesis seems to be that since there are some things that Bush didn't lie about, it's inaccurate to say that he lied. He tries to obfuscate it by pretending that the things Bush didn't lie about are the only things in the report, but that's basically it.

I hadn't realized that if you've ever told the truth, you can't fairly be accused of lying. I'd better get started on my not-lying; clearly, I've got a lot of catching up to do.

#6 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 01:33 PM:

The Democrats have a good reason to be hesitant to pursue this: if Bush was clearly lying, the Dems were either his partners or his dupes.

#7 ::: L Lindsey ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 02:09 PM:

I recall a building that was touted as one of Saddam's "chemical weapons labs" when I was in Iraq. Technically, I suppose it was something of the sort. It amounted to a large room at the back of a building with tiled walls and floor, a closet full of rotten old gas masks, and a spot out back that was constantly wet where glass bottles would surface after sandstorms. It had been mostly abandoned for about fifteen years by the time we got there and was disappointingly unimpressive. We used it as a maintenance unit headquarters.

The Administration has a tendency to exaggerate.

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 02:19 PM:

will @ 6
I'll forgive them for being duped early on. They should know better by now, though.

#9 ::: Redshift ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 02:27 PM:

"The Democrats have a good reason to be hesitant to pursue this: if Bush was clearly lying, the Dems were either his partners or his dupes."

I have to disagree. The report says that based on a review of the evidence, Bush was lying, not "Bush was clearly lying and anybody could have seen that at the time." The whole point is that Bush was misrepresenting what he knew to Congress and to the nation, not what "everbody" knew. Establishing that with solid evidence took getting up an Intelligence Committee investigation and getting a majority so the Republican committee chair couldn't sit on the results any longer.

I don't disagree that there was a lack of skepticism and plenty of political cowardice about whether he could be successfully challenged on it (and there still is), but equating that with being dupes or partners is like saying that no one should be prosecuted for fraud because the victim should have been able to see through it.

#10 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 04:18 PM:

#9: Whether or not Bush was obviously lying at the time, it should have been obvious that neither he nor the administration cared whether what they were saying was true. Remember that they didn't even request a NIE until Congress asked for it.

This report, as late as it is, still has its ass-covering aspects. Whether this is bipartisan ass-covering or Rockefeller's ass in particular, the report never mentions two little words: Hans Blix. (Hat tip... I forget. Oops.)

There's no mention of the UN weapons inspectors in the report, and I haven't heard any mention of Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law. You know, the guy who said that 1) Saddam had WMD in the 90s and 2) had destroyed it all. During the runup, only part 1 got any coverage.

I think there's a difference between "prosecuted" and "held responsible". If a bank teller makes change for a $3,000 note with a picture of Alfred E. Newman on it, they probably shouldn't be working as a bank teller. If you can't tell that Bush lies, or aren't willing to stand up to protest or prevent a war of aggression, maybe you shouldn't be holding political office.

#11 ::: Richard Klin ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 04:55 PM:

Actually, I don't think Bush and the administration are--in general--liars. They've been totally overt: they assumed office through outright fraud; they're explicitly serving the interests of big business, they want Iraqi oil, and they're in favor of mass incarceration of poor people and minorities. Hypocrites they're not.

#12 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 05:38 PM:

PJ and Redshift, I've forgiven the Dems like Edwards who said fairly early on that they were wrong. But I've forgiven them in the sense that they were human and afraid or greedy, not in the sense that it's understandable why they would've been fooled. At the time, the word was out that there was plenty of reason to doubt--the UN inspectors were begging for more time, remember? Millions of people protested the rush to war. But the Dems joined Bush. I note this purely as a historical fact. Some of them learned better, and some didn't. (Yeah, I still think the failure to apologize killed Clinton's campaign.)

Fungi, you're quite right that the Bush Gang didn't care about the truth. But the Dems should've insisted on it.

Ah, well, Enough Democrat bashing. Now let's see how many get behind Kucinich.

#13 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 05:49 PM:

I emailed my Congresscritter last night, and called her office an hour ago, saying I wanted impeachment NOW.... I also called WBZ and asked "Why are you nor reporting...." to which I got the mealymouthed "I'll pass that on" sort of response....

#14 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Richard #11

They are hypocrites. Their actions versus what their words in public were, don't agree. What they might have said privately not matching what they said publically, would also be hypocrisy. But it's their public words and claims, versus their actions, that is the public discriminant.

As for the Democrats, I remember what Sen Kerry said when he voted in favor of giving that I-do-not-name-the-obscene-with-respect Senatorial authorization to use deadly force as a last resort against the authority of Saddam Hussein, in the general tenor--he said that he was accepting that he was being told truthful accurate information and that he was accepting for the time being that the Executive Branch of US Government was acting in good faith etc. and telling the truth etc., but that he would be watching.... what he completely FAILED to do and bumbled completely at, was to dredge up his speech and point out just what he had said, the the salient points that:
a) He was extending the benefit of the doubt to the Executive Branch and accepting their claims that they were telling the truth and acting in good faith, etc.,
b) That he DID have doubts but that he had put them aside to accede to -trusting- the Executive Branch,
c) His trust and support were being abused from the very start, that the words told him were lies, that the people telling him the lies were liars, that these people are slime and broke faith with the People of the United States of America, the elected representiave of the people, and with everyone ELSE in the world who wasn't one of their slimy cronies,
d) He had been mistaken to accede to people who turned out to be liars--he had acted in good faith basd on believing their claims of truthfulness and good faith--and that he was repudiating them and repudiating his acceding to trusting them in the first place, he had extended his trust to them, and they broke faith with the American and world public, and with Congress, and everyone else they were lying to, that they were liars, and having watched them, he was now calling them on their deceit and deception and lies.

#15 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 06:52 PM:

#9 ::: Redshift ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 02:27 PM:

"The Democrats have a good reason to be hesitant to pursue this: if Bush was clearly lying, the Dems were either his partners or his dupes."

I have to disagree. The report says that based on a review of the evidence, Bush was lying, not "Bush was clearly lying and anybody could have seen that at the time."

But I saw he and they were lying. At the time. I wasn't the only one.

Not that what I saw or you saw or anybody else saw mattered, since nobody that 'mattered' would say it. Even now hardly anybody who 'matters', who holds an elected office, an appointed office, who poses as a journalist or expert, will use that word -- LIE.

Love, C

#16 ::: Tim in Albion ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:05 PM:

#10 - Thanks for remembering Hans Blix and the UN inspectors. Most people seem to have forgotten they even existed, much less that they were thrown out before they could complete their work. Blix was not finding the evidence the Americans wanted, and was getting dangerously close to coming right out and saying there were no WMDs. The Bush administration got him thrown out before he could spoil their fun. Somehow, Americans have gotten collective amnesia about the whole UNSCOM program; it's easier to claim we were deceived by Bush if we forget there were credible sources telling us the truth at the time.

#17 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Tim in Albion, it's not the American people. It's our corporate press, constantly revising our past. Alas, it's nothing new; I recently came across this great old quote from John Swinden, head of the New York Times, speaking at the National Press Club in 1953:

"There is no such thing at this date of the world’s history in America as an independent press. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write his honest opinion, and if you did, you know beforehand it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things. and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allow my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before 24 hours, my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it, and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and the vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks. They pull the strings, and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

#18 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 12:32 AM:

P J Evans #8: I'll forgive them for being duped early on. They should know better by now, though.
Redshift #9: The report says that based on a review of the evidence, Bush was lying, not "Bush was clearly lying and anybody could have seen that at the time."

No, I'm sorry, I don't buy it for a second. If I, a (then) eighteen year old who paid very little attention to current events, and certainly didn't read lefty blogs or have any non-mainstream news source, could easily tell that the whole lot of them were lying out of their asses from the moment they assumed office, the fracking Democrats should have been able to, too. I have no doubt that they knew exactly what was going on.

#19 ::: old ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 05:10 AM:

It would be comical if it were not sad, that a guy like Bush has such a cult of personality. I would think one would need a personality to have a cult of personality. I do not understand the disconnect between fact and fiction of the Bush administration, and the supporters. Can it be as simple as they are all making money?

#20 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 10:24 AM:

will shetterly @ 17

Oh, wow. He could say that in public in 1953 at the height of the Red Scare, with McCarthy holding hearings, and keep his job? Just goes to show the bosses really don't care much for appearances, or don't expect the voters to look anywhere but the front page of the newspaper.

ethan @ 18

It was possible to refute what Bush and his minions were saying with quotes from current sources; not necessary to dig back through archives or look up things in google cache. That the reporters, commentators, and "analysts" didn't look is quite damning of their professional abilities, senses of responsibility, and/or sources of orders. But that all the politicians caved is perfectly understandable; the neocons and their brethren have been bashing everyone over the head with the need to be "hard on our enemies" for decades. It's almost as useful a meme as "hard on crime" to right-wing politicians. Democrats developed a conditioned tic as a result of that argument; they'll sit bolt upright out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night, screaming, "I'm not soft on terrorists! or pedophiles!" A lot of them haven't apologized for that vote to go to war because they still think they'll lose the next election for being "soft on al-quaeda" if they do.

#21 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Bruce, thanks for mentioning that. I decided to fact-check it, and it seems it's been internetted wildly. After a little googling, I came on this:

It's probably from 1880. Still true, of course, and even better in its proper context.

#22 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 04:18 AM:

old @ 19: "It would be comical if it were not sad, that a guy like Bush has such a cult of personality. I would think one would need a personality to have a cult of personality."

Bush has only one skill, honed over many years of practice. He knows how to make people believe that he is cooler than they are, and that they need his good opinion to validate their self-worth. That is all he knows, but he knows it well. He is the perfect frat-boy.

#23 ::: old ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 04:27 AM:


You make a good point. Has politics always been like this, or is it a recent phenomenon? It is all very strange. I am as rational, and as irrational as the next guy, but, holy christ, I would never throw away any integrity I have to be pals with any politico.

#24 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 09:23 AM:

old @ 23

What they don't have, they can't throw away.

#25 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:08 PM:

#23-24: See #17. People with integrity don't generally get jobs in the media, or if they do, they lose them when their integrity leads them to say something that embarrasses their bosses. (Is Keith Olbermann an exception, or do we just not know enough about him?)

One category that *is* an exception: comedians. Mockery has its own weird kind of sacredness that allows comedians to joke about the dire truths "serious" politicians and media figures dare not approach. Our own media have several such wise fools. (The ability to speak truth and get away with it shouldn't be confused with infallibility, though - Bill Maher can spout off freely about a lot of things, but he gets half of them wrong anyway.)

#26 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2008, 08:20 PM:

Old, you hit the nail on the head. They don't like anything that will not line their pockets with cash. Period.

The war, healthcare, fuel prices, food prices.


#27 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Katie Lied too. Are you with me, Doctor Wu?*

#28 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 08:47 PM:

"Past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation. Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom.....Now, as ever, we do ourselves best justice when we measure ourselves against ancient tests, as in the Antigone of Sophocles: 'All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only sin is pride.'" - Robert F Kennedy

Via Andrew Sullivan. I feel like I ought to post this on every political thread on this blog, and on the open thread as well. Past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation. I wonder who wrote that speech...

#29 ::: Seth Morris ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:49 AM:

Chris @ 25, Olbermann may or may not have integrity, and I may or may not agree with his positions, but his "lefty Limbaugh" presentation ("you can applaud now," etc.) hurts his credibility enough that what he says loses its punch. He can say anything as long as he makes an easy target of himself; unfortunately, he does it at the expense of making the same easy target of his positions.

It's a shame that he can only say what he believes if he says it in a way that makes people distrust him or dislike him.

#30 ::: mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:08 PM:

Good post. But it certainly wasn't just Republicans who lied, or who backed this war. Check out these quotes from the leading Democrats to refresh your memory. (Via Sam Smith, at Undernews:

"We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." -President Bill Clinton, February 17, 1998.

"[Saddam Hussein ] has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies." - Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, November 10, 1999.

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." -Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, September 19, 2002.

"We know that [Saddam Hussein ] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country. . . Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." - Al Gore, a former vice president of the United States who back then could sound remarkably like the current one, on September 23, 2002. Clearly both veeps were in this together.

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." - Senator Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002.

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons." - Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members.. . . It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, now of New York, on October 10, 2002.

The first step to dealing with this warmongering is to get beyond this idea that it is just the Repubicans who are doing it. Claiming so at this point is basically dishonest. The Democrats are just as responsible and have been there every step of the way. Including, in fact especially, so-called progressive heroes such as Kennedy and Gore. Gore has taken in well over $100 million from corporate interests since 9/11.

#31 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:30 PM:

whoever-you-are or whatever-you-are hiding behind the email ID of " in #30 above, your quotes out of contexts constitute pure unadulterated misrepresentational bathos.

"Seeking and developing" using old quotes, is far far different than "having an actual existing capability." Go ask all the people who've had their satellites fail to get the intended orbit, or fail to get to orbit at all, that made the mistake of trusting their spacecraft to Japanese space launchers....

Saddam Hussein very much wanted working weapons of mass destruction, and spent enormous sums TOWARDS that goal (Gerald Bull, was it, being one example.... the Israelis assiduously went after Iraq's attempted development of efficacious WMD and delivery systems for them that the country perceived as real threats to it). That the capabilities he had once had (the stuff he used against Kurds etc.) deteriorated and that the continuing efforts with his funding were going nowhere, changes NOTHING that he was attempting to have WMD capability and delivery capability.

The difference between someone wanting something, and HAVING it, is something the the Oaf's misadministration has been going far out of its futz-around way the past seven and a half years to obsfuscate.... whipping the population into hysteria in fear of "terrorists" and years ago in fear of Saddam (while being so ineffectual regarding North Korea and once having labeled it part of an "evil axis" then playing paper tiger while North Korea boasted of developing WMD....)on the basis of doctored and/or apparently-intentionally-misanalyzed "intelligence" has been one of the key activities the past seven and a half years inflicted on the USA and the world by the misadministration.

Translation--what I see above are statements so taken out of context and used so misleadingly, as to be deliberate lies.

#32 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2008, 03:31 PM:

mike's writing could use a bit of help there. Or his reading comprehension could.
Every one of those quotes is before 2003.
Two are before Shrub became preznit.
All of those between 9/11 and 2003 are based on what we were told then, not on what we know now.

['mike' has been advertising editorial and writing services in the UCLA paper. Google is our friend.]

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