The Amazing Shrinking Justification for War

Revolutionary Worker #1228, February 8, 2004, posted at

They Insisted the Weapons Are There

It is worth reviewing for a moment the statements of U.S. government officials. It is worth remembering how arrogantly they made their claims.

Vice President Dick Cheney, opening the war drive, Aug. 26, 2002:

"Simply stated, there's no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Sept. 8, 2002:

"Saddam Hussein is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments into Iraq of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to nuclear weapons programs."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sept. 19, 2002:

Iraq has "amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, sarin, and mustard gas."

George Bush, Sept. 28, 2002:

"The danger to our country is grave and growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes."

National Intelligence Estimate, released as Congress was debating granting Bush war powers to attack Iraq, Oct. 4, 2002:

"Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons... including mustard, sarin, cyclosarin and VX... Most analysts assess Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.''

George Bush, Radio Address, Oct. 5, 2002:

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

George Bush, Cincinnati, Oct. 7, 2002:

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. 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."

Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, Dec. 5, 2002:

"The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."

Colin Powell, UN Speech, Feb. 5, 2003:

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce many, many more. We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails."

"Numerous intelligence reports over the past decade, from sources inside Iraq, indicate that Saddam Hussein retains a covert force of up to a few dozen Scud variant ballistic missiles."

"Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents... My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

George Bush, delivering his pre-war ultimatum to Iraq, March 17, 2003:

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, March 18, 2003:

Any suggestion that Iraq had already destroyed its weapons was "palpably absurd."

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, during the first week of war, March 30, 2003:

"We know where [the WMD] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Promising the Actual Weapons After the War

Richard L. Gonzales, head of Defense Department weapons specialist team, April 16, 2003:

"We're not going to find just a smoking gun, but a smoking cannon."

George Bush, May 3, 2003:

"We'll find them, and it's just going to be a matter of time to do so."

Congressman Dick Gephardt, then Democratic candidate for president:

"There is long, consistent, clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And I'm still convinced that we are going to find them."

Donald Rumsfeld, May 29, 2003:

"I can assure you that this war was not waged under any false pretext."

Vice President Cheney (NPR, Jan. 22, 2004, the day before Dr. Kay resigned) is asked if the U.S. government has given up on finding Iraqi WMDs. Cheney answers:

"No, we haven't."

Actual Weapons? They Aren't The Issue!

Within a month of the war, the U.S. government realized that there were no stockpiles of war ready weapons. So they kept insisting that the ongoing searches would justify the war--but suddenly were the U.S. war makers were "moving the goal posts." They weren't talking about weapons anymore--but programs, documents or whatever.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, May 16, 2003:

"We are flooding Iraq with inspectors who will look in every place that one can look in to find documents and to get evidence of their programs of weapons of mass destruction. And we're quite sure we'll find it."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (fromNew York Times , May 3, 2003):

Iraq may only have " chemical precursors " of " a just-in-time inventory, a just-in-time assembly" process for potential chemical weapons.

International Herald Tribune , June 9, 2003:

"The latest vogue in Washington is the proposition that it really doesn't matter whether Saddam Hussein maintained an arsenal of unconventional weapons in recent years."

Senator John McCain, (fromNew York Times , June 4, 2003):

"The American people support what the president did, whether we find those weapons or not."

George Bush, State of the Union speech, January 2004:

"We're seeking all the facts. Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." After this speech, the world wondered out loud about Bush's Orwellian use of the concept "weapons-related program activity." What exactly is that?

Now President Bush argues the legal justification for war was not WMDs anyway (fromNew York Times , Jan. 30, 2004):

"On Tuesday Mr. Bush declared that the war was justified--under U.N. Resolution 1441, no less--because Saddam `did not let us in.' "