(This post originally appeared at The Free Thought Project)
Thirteen years after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is common knowledge that this war of choice was based on fabrications and slick propaganda. There were no weapons of mass destruction, the country posed no real threat to the U.S., and it was not a hotbed of terrorism until after Saddam was deposed.
Now, a bombshell has dropped in the form of a leaked classified report—a “smoking gun” if you will—that confirms the utter deception carried out on the American people to support the invasion. It demonstrates just how far the cabal under George W. Bush, making up a group known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), would go to prey upon fear in pursuit of global hegemony.
While Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others were proclaiming their certainty about the imminent threats posed to the U.S. by Saddam’s Iraq, the leaked documents reveal that they knew almost nothing about any actual weapons or capabilities.
On August 16, 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asked Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer, head of the Joint Staff’s intelligence directorate, for a report on “what we don’t know (in a percentage) about the Iraqi WMD program.”
The findings, titled Iraq: Status of WMD Programs, were underscored by this statement:
“Our assessments rely heavily on analytic assumptions and judgment rather than hard evidence. The evidentiary base is particularly sparse for Iraqi nuclear programs.”
Regarding the actual programs, it says:
“We’ve struggled to estimate the unknowns. … We range from 0% to about 75% knowledge on various aspects of their program…
Our knowledge of the Iraqi (nuclear) weapons program is based largely—perhaps 90%—on analysis of imprecise intelligence.”
When forwarding the report, Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer answered Rumsfeld’s original question by noting, “We don’t know with any precision how much we don’t know.”
Rumsfeld apparently believed the report had some significance when he sent it to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying, “Please take a look at this material as to what we don’t know about WMD. It is big.”
Considering that this was a summary of all that the U.S. intelligence apparatus knew about Iraq’s WMD capabilities (or lack thereof), how could any responsible leader try and sell the invasion to the American people?
Yet that is what happened, perhaps no more fervently than Vice President Dick Cheney. There are countless examples of Cheney stating in no uncertain terms the nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile threats that Saddam’s Iraq posed to the U.S.
Cheney asserted that Iraq was secretly reconstituting its biological and chemical weapons programs, but the report stated:
“We cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi facilities that produce, test, fill, or store biological weapons.
We do not know if all the processes required to produce a weapon are in place. [The Iraqis] lack the precursors for sustained nerve agent production…we cannot confirm the identity of any Iraqi sites that produce final chemical agent.”
While Cheney and the gang issued repeated fear-mongering about “mushroom clouds,” the report stated: “We do not know the status of enrichment capabilities. We do not know with confidence the location of any nuclear-weapon-related facilities.”
Days before Bush claimed that Iraq was developing ballistic missiles that could hit Israel with WMD, the report had found: “We doubt all processes are in place to produce longer range missiles.”
The secret report was kept from the view of key players in the propaganda campaign, including Colin Powell who was made to look the fool. Just before the invasion, Powell said before the U.N. General Assembly: “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.”
With thes lack of factual evidence for their yearning to invade Iraq—a goal of PNAC since 1998—the war-mongering officials with deep ties to the defense industry proceeded to fabricate their own tales to justify the propaganda campaign.
They turned to a parallel intelligence apparatus that they created, which relied on a network of Iraqi defectors and exiles, most notably the late Ahmed Chalabi who admitted he provided wrong information.
Back home, Cheney and Rumsfeld had set up something called the Office of Special Plans, run by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. This Pentagon office sent raw intelligence from Chalabi and other nefarious sources directly to the president, unvetted by intelligence analysts and uncorroborated.
If there was ever a smoking gun, this is it. If there was ever enough reason to bring charges of war crimes and other abuses of power against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, this report provides it.
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Contributed by Justin Gardner of The Free Thought Project.