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<nettime> WMD and the Bush Whitehouse - Democracy is In Trouble
Ronda Hauben on Wed, 25 Jun 2003 02:19:35 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> WMD and the Bush Whitehouse - Democracy is In Trouble

The following article is online at Telepolis in English and German.

I welcome comments.


The U.S. Government Case for War in Iraq Based on Forgery and Lies

Ronda Hauben  24.06.2003

The Threat to Any Democratic Processes of Government

In the past few weeks, there have been many questions raised in the U.S.
and world press about whether George Bush knowingly presented fraudulent
evidence about the existence of a nuclear capability in Iraq. It was on
the basis of such Weapons of Mass Destruction,(WMD) that Iraq was said to
present a danger to the US. This was the U.S. government's public
justification for its war against Iraq.

Currently there are inquiries by the British, US and Australian
governments about the use of such a fraudulent case to justify war. One of
the most significant falsifications in the WMD public debate, is Bush's
reference to an alleged attempt by Iraq to buy 500 tons of uranium oxide
from the African country, Niger. In his State of the Union address on
January 28, 2003, Bush declared that, "The British government has learned
that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from

Similar claims had been made by the CIA in their September 24, 2002
briefing to the Congress. The case for Iraq's nuclear capability was based
on documents known to be forged as of March 2002. Yet the claims continued
to be used by Bush, by the CIA, and by other administration officials as a
key component of their case for the war against Iraq.

According to several different reports, in 2001, the CIA learned of the
claims about Iraq trying to buy uranium oxide from Niger. Vice President
Dick Cheney's office raised questions about this situation in February
2002. The CIA sent a former U.S. ambassador, one who was respected in
Africa, to Niger, to speak with government officials there. The ambassador
learned that the dates and signatures on the documents being used to
support the claim were fraudulent. He reported his findings back to the
CIA. A Washington Post article=A0[1] indicates that the CIA sent the White
House a report of the fraudulent nature of the documents in March 2002.(1)
Six months later, however, in September 2002, the head of the CIA claimed
was still referring to a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. The reports are
that he referring to the Niger information, without presenting the result
of the ambassador's investigation. A number of Congressmen say they voted
to authorize a war against Iraq based on the administration claim that
Iraq had a nuclear capability. The Democratic Party minority has now asked
for a transcript of the CIA official testimony at the September 24, 2002
Congressional hearing. They want to determine whether the CIA testimony at
the hearing presented the forged nature of the Niger documents.

Other CIA or State Department activities in 2002 and 2003 continued,
making 0the same case to justify a war against Iraq. For example, in
response to the Iraq weapons declaration filed with the UN on December 7,
2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the UN Security
Council on December 19, 2002. He presented the Security Council with a one
page State Department fact sheet in response to the Iraqi declaration.
That fact sheet stated that, "The Declaration ignores efforts to procure
uranium from Niger. Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium

After Bush's State of the Union speech, the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) requested that the U.S. government provide evidence about
the Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium oxide in Africa. On March 7, 2003, a
day after the documents were finally given to the Agency, the head of the
agency, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei publicly presented that the
documents were forgeries.

On March 17, 2003, Representative Henry Waxman, a Democratic Congressman
from California, and minority Chair of the Government Reform Committee in
the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote a letter=A0[2] to Bush's office
asking for an explanation of how the case for a nuclear capacity in Iraq
could be built on the basis of forged documents.

He received a response from Paul Kelly, of the State Department
legislative office. Kelly writes:

Beginning in late 2001, the United States obtained information through
several channels, including U.S. intelligence sources and overt sources,
reporting that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Africa. In
addition, two Western European allies informed us of similar reporting
from their own intelligence services. As you know, the UK made this
information public in its September 2002 dossier on "Iraq's Weapons of
Mass Destruction." The other Western European ally relayed this
information to us privately and said, while it did not believe any uranium
had been shipped to Iraq, it believed Iraq had sought to purchase uranium
from Niger. We sought several times to determine the basis for the latter
assessment, and whether it was based on independent evidence not otherwise
available to the U.S. Not until March 4 did we learn that in fact the
second Western European government had based its assessment on evidence
already available to the U.S. that was subsequently discredited. Letter
from Paul V. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Dept
of State, April 29, 2003

The U.S. government had used the case for Iraq's nuclear capability when
Powell made to the UN Security Council on December 19, 2002 and in the
President's State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, even though
they knew there were forged documents as the basis for this claim. Kelly
suggests that it was all right to continue to make the case, based on
hearsay evidence from some other country, until they learned on March 4,
2003 that the other Western European government was also based on forged
documents. Such reasoning continues the deception. It doesn't acknowledge
the responsibility of government officials to honest activity in the
conduct of their office. Once forged documents are recognized, and Kelly
acknowledges the recognition of the forgery, there is no basis to continue
to make a case. There is the responsibility to challenge any other
documents which make a similar case.

While such an excuse for including discredited information in an important
speech like the President's State of the Union speech appears flimsy at
best, yet another explanation has been given by National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rice when she appeared on Sunday television talk shows on June
8, 2003. She said that the President's Office didn't know that the CIA had
judged the Niger story to be based on forged documents.

In a letter=A0[3] to Rice on June 10, Waxman quotes her comments. She

=2E.I will tell you that when this issue was raised with the intelligence
community...the intelligence community did not know at that time, or at
levels that got to us, that there were serious questions about this

Disputing Rice's claim that the State Department did not know of the
forgeries, Greg Thielmann describes how his office conveyed this
information to the Department of the Secretary of State well before the
State of the Union address. As Director of the State Department Bureau of
Intelligence and Research (INR) until Fall 2002, he explains that the
Niger documents were judged to be "garbage" by his office. He reports that
this judgement was conveyed at that time to the Office of the U.S.
Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Thielmann has been quoted in newspaper
and magazine accounts and has appeared on television interviews refuting
that the State Department did not know of the forgeries.

Whether or not the Bush administration recognized the fraudulent nature of
the Niger documents and the case for Iraq's possession of nuclear weapons
fraudulent before the first week in March 2003, however, still does not
relieve them of a responsibility regarding the discrepancy between the
nature of their case for war and the evidence they provided for that case.
Kelly admits that by March 4, 2003 the forgery was known. There was still
plenty of time for George Bush to reverse the decision to go to war
against Iraq. He didn't reverse it. No other reliable evidence was
presented at the time of any Iraqi nuclear capacity. Yet on March 19,
2003, George Bush announced=A0[4] the beginning of a war against Iraq,
claiming that the purpose of the war was "disarm Iraq and to...defend the
world from grave danger."

One conclusion that can be draw is that it didn't matter to George Bush
that the reasons given to the public to go to war against Iraq were based
on fraudulent evidence. Whether the public was behind Bush's march to war
or not, was unimportant to Bush. He couldn't know that unless an honest
case was made to the public about the reasons for going to war.

What is the effect of having presented a fraudulent case to the U.S.
Congress, the U.S. public, and the U.N. Security Council, and the world
about the reasons for a war against Iraq? John W. Dean, former Counsel to
the Nixon White House, recently reminded the public that the abuse of U.S.
government processes by the President and other offices of government is a
crime of the highest order. Though Dean doesn't mention the fraudulent
nature of the U.S. government claims about Iraq's nuclear capability, he
does explain that lies by government officials regarding WMD in Iraq are a
challenge to the integrity of the U.S. government. Waging war against a
sovereign nation based on fraudulent claims and misrepresentations like
those presented about the existence of WMD in Iraq, is a challenge to any
pretense of democratic processes. How can people oversee what their
government officials are doing if the government officials openly lie to
them? How can there be any pretense of constitutional processes where
sovereignty resides with the people if they are not allowed to know what
government officials are doing? This is a serious challenge to the nature
and future of law and government. Whether this challenge can be taken up
or not is an important question for our times.


hptop_ts [2] http://www.house.gov/waxman/text/admin_iraq_march_17_let.htm
[3] http://www.house.gov/waxman/text/admin_iraq_june_10_let.htm [4]

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