Thursday, January 24, 2008

Counted: U.S. Administration lies preceding Iraq war

Study: False statements preceded war
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL
Wed Jan 23, 2008

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 was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public
Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in
Journalism.http://www.publicintegrity.org/default.aspx

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of
the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position
that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a
threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of
intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

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."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the
administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney,
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald
H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and
Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study
found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

The center said the study was based on a database created with public
statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and
information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles,
speeches and interviews.

"The cumulative effect of these false statements -- amplified by
thousands of news stories and broadcasts -- was massive, with the media
coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical
months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists -- indeed, even some entire news organizations -- have
since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was
far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding,
much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional,
'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements
about Iraq," it said.
 

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