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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To Those Saying Bush Lied About Iraq

What you need to do is

  1. Type a quotation mark.  (It's on the right side of your keyboard somewhere.)
  2. Cut and paste an official White House statement made before the invasion arguing for it.
  3. Type another quotation mark.
  4. Give evidence that the statement was false.  (Not merely misleading or exaggerated or incomplete or imprecise, but that its grammatical negation was true.)
  5. Give evidence that Bush KNEW the statement was false.
Until you try the above, you're just not in the game. Sorry. 
Even The Center for Public Integrity, in its exhaustive study of Administration statements on Iraq, didn't dare say that Bush "lied".  But that didn't stop AlterNet from writing:

AN) Study: Bushies Lied 935 Times to Sell Iraq Invasion (AN

A "lie" is a false statement that you know is false.  If exaggeration and misinterpretation and selective reading and willful imprecision are "lies", then this AlterNet headline is just as guilty as Bush and his team.  For several years I've been asking for a clearcut example of a lie in an official Administration statement arguing before the invasion in favor of it, and I've never been given one.  If it existed, it would be as famous as "read my lips, no new taxes".  As fun as it is to pretend otherwise, Bush and his crew aren't quite that stupid.  This study in fact does not use the words "lie" or "lying" anywhere that I can find.  Instead, its methodology section notes that any use of "disarm", e.g. "Saddam Hussein has got a choice, and that is, he can disarm" -- counts as one of the 935 "false statements".  It's just lame to count such a sentence as a "deception", and laughable to call it a "lie".

To evaluate Bush's justification for invading Iraq, the elephant in the room is Bush's invasion-eve speech, in which he said:

The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament. Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again -- because we are not dealing with peaceful men.  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. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq's neighbors and against Iraq's people.  The regime has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.  The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.

Even if you delete the fifth sentence because of the intelligence failures undelrying it, the above constitutes a solid justification for the war.  The only other sentence in the entire speech that is now remotely disputable is this: "In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over."  (That multiplication was a risk, but it wasn't known to be inevitable on that timescale.)  But even without these two sentences, the rest of the speech still holds up as valid justification for taking Saddam down.