Senate Democrats

Senate Intelligence Committee Report Confirms Bush Administration Spun the Truth to Take America to War

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the Bush Administration’s use of pre-war intelligence confirms former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s account of how the Bush Administration led the nation to war. Through a coordinated propaganda campaign conducted by the President and his most senior advisers, the Bush Administration used innuendo and implication, made claims that went far beyond what the intelligence community concluded and ignored significant dissent within the intelligence community over other claims to lead the nation to war. As Scott McClellan wrote in his book, the President and his officials in the run-up to war “confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.” This was the first in a series of misjudgments made by the Bush Administration that have gravely damaged U.S. national security.

Senate Intelligence Committee Report: Statements by the Bush Administration About a Possible Iraqi Nuclear Program Did Not Convey the Substantial Disagreements That Existed in the Intelligence Community 

President Bush Said Iraq Was Seeking a Nuclear Bomb. “This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.” [President Bush Radio Address, 9/28/02]

Vice President Cheney Said Saddam Hussein Had Reconstituted His Nuclear Weapons Program. “Now, the more recent developments have to do with our now being able to conclude, based on intelligence that’s becoming available, some of it has been made public, more of it hopefully will be, that he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, that he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, that there are efforts under way inside Iraq to significantly expand his capability.” [Meet the Press, 9/8/02]

Vice President Cheney Said We Knew “With Absolute Certainty,” Saddam Hussein Was Trying to Buy Equipment to Enrich Uranium to Build a Nuclear Weapon. “But we do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.” [Meet the Press, 9/8/02]

National Security Adviser Rice Said She Knew That Saddam Hussein Was Pursuing a Nuclear Weapon. Asked how close Saddam Hussein’s government was to developing a nuclear capability, National Security Adviser Rice said, “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.” [CNN Late Edition, 9/8/02]

National Security Adviser Rice Said She Did Not Know How Long It Would Take for Iraq to Acquire Nuclear Weapons, “But We Don’t Want the Smoking Gun to Be a Mushroom Cloud.” “The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [CNN Late Edition, 9/8/02]

  • BUT Senate Intelligence Committee Report Noted Key Disagreements Within the Intelligence Community. “Prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, some intelligence agencies assessed that the Iraqi government was reconstituting a nuclear weapons program, while others disagreed or expressed doubts about the evidence. The Estimate itself expressed the majority view that the program was being reconstituted, but included clear dissenting views from the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which argued that the reconstitution was not underway, and the Department of Energy, which argued that aluminum tubes sought by Iraq were probably not intended for a nuclear program.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 6/5/08]

Senate Intelligence Committee Report: Bush Administration Statements About Links Between Iraq and al-Qaeda Were Not Wholly Substantiated, Did Not Accurately Convey Intelligence and Were in Part False 

In 2002, President Bush Said Iraq Had Long-Standing and Continuous Ties to Terrorists and that al Qaeda Terrorists Were in Iraq. “The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist groups, and there are al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq.” [President Bush Radio Address, 9/28/02]

In 2002, Vice President Cheney Said al Qaeda Members Were Operating in Iraq. “There is–again, I want to separate out 9/11, from the other relationships between Iraq and the al-Qaeda organization. But there is a pattern of relationships going back many years. And in terms of exchanges and in terms of people, we’ve had recently since the operations in Afghanistan–we’ve seen al-Qaeda members operating physically in Iraq and off the territory of Iraq.” [Meet the Press, 9/8/02]

  • Vice President Cheney Pushed Claim That al Qaeda Members Were In Iraq, But CIA Could Not Back It Up.  “Vice President Cheney was seized with what he thought was a connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, but the CIA disagreed.  Tenet and his people had gone over the intelligence as completely as they could.  There was no proof, he said plainly.  True, a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had strong al Qaeda ties, was involved in various terrorist activities inside Iraq.  He had been given sanctuary there by the Saddam regime.  But there was no evidence to show that Saddam himself, someone on his behalf, or someone in the Iraqi intelligence or security services was involved with Zarqawi.   ‘I can’t take you to authority, direction, and control,’ Tenet said.  That was the high standard that had to be met to make a case for a Saddam-al Qaeda link.” [Bob Woodward, State of Denial, 2006; p. 120]

Vice President Cheney Said There Were Reports that Mohammed Atta Met With a Senior Iraq Intelligence Official a Few Months Before 9/11. “I’m not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can’t say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years. We’ve seen in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center.” [Meet the Press, 9/8/02]

  • Vice President Cheney Insisted on Link Between Iraq and al Qaeda Through Mohammed Atta; Secretary Powell and CIA Disagreed.  “Powell was set to go before the United Nations on February 5, 2003, to make the WMD intelligence case for war, and Cheney wanted him to look at the argument his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, had assembled charging a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.  The case included an allegation that Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attacks, had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer as many as four times.  Tenet’s CIA had chased down some indicators about one or two meetings, but nothing had been confirmed.  In the end they had concluded there was no evidence of even a single meeting.  Powell thought the Atta link didn’t exist and he refused to include it in his speech.  He also toned down the references to Zarqawi in his forthcoming UN speech.  He planned to talk only about the potential for an Iraq-al Qaeda link.”  [Bob Woodward, State of Denial, 2006; p. 120]
  • BUT Senate Intelligence Committee Report Concluded Intelligence Committee Did Not Confirm That Muhammad Atta Met an Iraqi Intelligence Officer in Prague in 2001. [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 6/5/08]

National Security Adviser Rice Said There Was “Certainly Evidence” of Links Between Iraq and Al Qaeda, Though She Did Not Say Iraq Was Involved in the 9/11 Attacks. Asked if there was any hard evidence directly linking the Iraqi government to al Qaeda and the 9/11 terror attacks against the United States, Rice responded, “There is certainly evidence that al Qaeda people have been in Iraq. There is certainly evidence that Saddam Hussein cavorts with terrorists. I think that if you asked, do we know that he had a role in 9/11, no, we do not know that he had a role in 9/11. But I think that this is the test that sets a bar that is far too high.” [CNN Late Edition, 9/8/02]

National Security Adviser Rice Said Evidence of the Prague Meeting Between Al Qaeda and Iraqi Intelligence Officials Added to Picture of Ties Between Iraq and al-Qaeda. On CNN’s Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer asked National Security Adviser Rice, “What is the significance, if any, of the meeting that occurred between Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the al Qaeda terror operation, the 9/11 terror operation, and a senior Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague, in the Czech Republic before 9/11? And did that meeting — can you confirm absolutely that that meeting took place?” She responded, “We continue to look at evidence of that meeting. And it’s just more of a picture that is emerging that there may well have been contacts between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. There are others. And we will be laying out the case.” [CNN Late Edition, 9/8/02]

  • BUT Senate Intelligence Committee Report Concluded Statements and Implications that Iraq and al-Qaeda Had a Partnership Were Not Substantiated. “Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training were not substantiated by the intelligence.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 6/5/08]
  • BUT Senate Intelligence Committee Report Concluded Policymakers’ Statements Did Not Accurately Convey the Intelligence Assessments, Left Incorrect Impression. “Statements in the major speeches analyzed, as well additional statements, regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qa’ida were substantiated by intelligence information. However, policymakers’ statements did not accurately convey the intelligence assessments of the nature of these contacts, and left the impression that the contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation or support of al-Qa’ida.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 6/5/08]

Senate Intelligence Committee Report: Bush Administration Officials’ Statements on the State of Post-War Iraq Did Not Reflect Uncertainties Expressed in the Intelligence Products

Vice President Cheney Said We Would Be Greeted As Liberators by the Iraqi People. “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… 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.” [Meet the Press, 3/16/03]

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld SaidWar In Iraq “Could Last Six Days, Six Weeks. I Doubt Six Months.” “It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” [BBC News, 2/7/03]

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Said He Was Reasonably Certain That Iraqi People Would Greet Us As Liberators. “We can’t be sure that the Iraqi people will welcome us as liberators, although based on what Iraqi-Americans told me in Detroit a week ago, many of them – most of them with families in Iraq – I am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down.” [House Budget Committee Hearing, 2/27/03]

Secretary of State Powell Said He Hoped We Would Be Seen as Liberators by the Iraqi People. “I hope we would be seen as liberators. I think that might well be the case. The Iraqi people must be getting tired of living under a dictatorial regime that has used its wealth, the wealth of its people, to develop weapons of mass destruction, to invade neighbors, to threaten the world and to bring this crisis down on the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people are hurting. And if only that $20 billion a year of oil revenue that is available to it would be used for good and not evil, would be used to build the country rather than build weapons, then perhaps if Iraqi people saw that that situation was going to change, they might welcome that change rather than resist it.” [Meet the Press, 2/9/03]

  • BUT Senate Intelligence Committee Report Concluded Statements by Administration Officials Regarding the Post-War Situation Did Not Reflect Uncertainties Expressed in the Intelligence Products. “Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products. There were relatively few intelligence products on this subject prior to January 2003, and senior policymakers did not request them. The Committee recognizes that there were many other sources of information available to policymakers that would inform their views about post-war Iraq. The Committee did not explore these other sources as it is beyond the scope of this report.” [Senate Intelligence Committee Report, 6/5/08]

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan: The Bush Administration Sold the War to the American People Using Innuendo and Implication, Not Honesty and Candor

McClellan Wrote that President Bush and the Administration Sold the War To the American People Through an Orchestrated Campaign. “But in a chapter titled ‘Selling the War,’ he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush ‘managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option. ‘Over that summer of 2002,’ he writes, ‘top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president’s advantage.’” [Washington Post, Excerpts from Scott McClellan’s “What Happened,” 05/28/08]

McClellan Wrote That The Bush Administration “Confused the Propaganda Campaign with the High Level of Candor and Honesty So Fundamentally Needed” to Take the Nation to War. “I still like and admire George W. Bush. I consider him a fundamentally decent person, and I do not believe he or his White House deliberately or consciously sought to deceive the American people. But he and his advisors confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.” [Excerpt of Scott McClellan’s “What Happened” via  LA Times, 05/29/08]

McClellan Wrote That The Bush Administration Used “Innuendo and Implication” to Shade the Truth About Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. “‘Rather than open this Pandora’s Box, the administration chose a different path — not employing out-and-out deception, but shading the truth,’ he wrote of the effort to convince the world that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, an effort he said used ‘innuendo and implication’ and ‘intentional ignoring of intelligence to the contrary.’” [Cox News Service, 05/28/08]

McClellan Wrote That The Most Fundamental Mistake of the Bush Administration Was Turning Away from Candor and Honesty in the Run-Up to War. “‘Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake. But in reflecting on all that happened during the Bush administration, I’ve come to believe that an even more fundamental mistake was made — a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.” [Excerpt from "What Happened:  Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception", by Scott McClellan read by Tim Russert on Meet the Press, 6/1/08]  

  • In 2002, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Said “You Don’t Introduce New Products in August.” “‘From a marketing point of view,’ said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ‘you don’t introduce new products in August.’” [New York Times, 9/7/02]