Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan’s new book, in which he accuses the Bush administration of using propaganda to sell the invasion of Iraq, is being used as a sideshow by the corporate media to "debate" and cast suspicion upon the manifestly provable fact that Bush led America into a war based on lies.
The chicken-necked yellow bellied corporate press whores at the New York Times, Washington Post and elsewhere, who gleefully echoed bellicose propaganda about Iraq’s non-existent WMD program in the months leading up to the invasion, are now attributing a false sense of controversy to McClellan’s comments when in reality all he is doing is saying one plus one equals two.
The reason for pontificating on McClellan saying Bush used propaganda to sell the war, which is the equivalent of saying that the sun came up yesterday morning, is clear – to sow seeds of doubt in his statements by associating them with a disgruntled former employee who has an axe to grind.
Current White House sycophants are playing their part too, going off talking points in claiming they are "puzzled" by McClellan’s statements in an attempt to foster the stereotype of an unstable and bitter McClellan who is merely spewing nonsense in order to backbite and sell a book.
Whether McClellan spoke out to clear his conscience or so he could sell more books is beside the point – the fact that propaganda was used without recourse in the run-up to the March 2003 invasion is self-evident, but the corporate media is hoping that Americans just can’t be bothered to remember that far back.
Here’s a little refresher course.
A report by the Center for Public Integrity earlier this year concluded that White House officials, including President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, made "935 demonstrably false statements made on 532 separate occasions" in relation to Iraq and its alleged WMD program.
"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda," states the report. "This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose "Duelfer Report" established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it."
Despite this fact, on nearly 1,000 occasions, White House officials “stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war.”
The most infamous of all the examples of Iraq war propaganda was the Niger uranium controversy.
Bush cited a forged document that claimed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. In his 2003 State of the Union Speech, Bush said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," despite the fact that the CIA had directly told the White House in an October 2002 memo that the documents were forgeries.
Bush knew that the documents were not genuine, but he used them to deceive the American people into believing a lie about Iraq’s weapons capability to beef the case for war.
When Iraq released its 12,000 page dossier to the UN describing the scale of its weapons programs and how biological weapons were disposed of, the U.S. government seized the report, deleted 8,000 pages to censor the fact that U.S. companies provided Iraq with its weapons arsenal at the behest of the U.S. government itself, released the rest and then claimed that Iraq was "hiding" evidence of weapons programs.
On the eve of the war the U.S. cited fabricated and unreliable evidence to try and justify a war in the face of mounting anti-war demonstrations.
Colin Powell’s speech to the U.N. on February 5 2003 was described as a watershed moment because it firmly divided the world into pro and anti-war camps. At this point blatantly demonization-driven stories were emerging suggesting that Saddam Hussein’s spies were running and organizing anti-war protests across the world. Hussein could barely control his small region of dominance and so how his agents were able to leave the country and infiltrate the anti-war movement is baffling.
Powell’s ‘evidence’ consisted of satellite photographs with arrows drawn on pointing to objects that could have been anything, if the satellite photos were even genuine at all. The then Secretary of State also outlined that the Islamic terrorist group Ansar al-Islam, which he linked to Hussein, were operating a chemical and poisons factory in north-eastern Iraq. When journalists from several different countries visited this location, they found out that it was in fact a bakery.
“It emerged that the terrorist factory was nothing of the kind – more a dilapidated collection of concrete outbuildings at the foot of a grassy sloping hill. Behind the barbed wire, and a courtyard strewn with broken rocket parts, are a few empty concrete houses. There is a bakery. There is no sign of chemical weapons anywhere – only the smell of paraffin and vegetable ghee used for cooking,” reported the London Observer, concluding that Powell’s charge was "cheap hyperbole".
In June 2003, reports emerged that quoted Powell fuming at the "bullshit" he was being forced to read before the UN and in April 2004, Powell, "admitted that evidence he submitted to the United Nations to justify war on Iraq may have been wrong".
During his presentation, Powell also held up a British intelligence dossier that claimed to detail Iraq’s links to terrorist organizations. Powell stated, “I would call my colleagues’ attention to the fine paper that the United Kingdom distributed… which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities.”
The dossier, entitled ‘Iraq – its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation’ was revealed just a day after Powell’s speech to be a compilation of 6-year-old magazine articles and a graduate student thesis which cited information that was 12-years-old. Four of the report’s nineteen pages were copied verbatim from an Internet version of an article by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a postgraduate student from Monterey in California. Downing Street copied the text without even removing the spelling mistakes. The only changes that were made were detailed by U.K. Channel 4 News.
“In several places Downing Street edits the originals to make more sinister reading. Number 10 says the Mukhabarat – the main intelligence agency – is "spying on foreign embassies in Iraq". The original reads: "monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq." And the provocative role of "supporting terrorist organisations in hostile regimes" has a weaker, political context in the original: "aiding opposition groups in hostile regimes.”
The British government made itself look even more foolish by refusing to apologize and actually defending the material as accurate. They couldn’t see the harm in passing off a student essay as high-level MI6 intelligence – and neither could the U.S. government or Colin Powell . Former Labour MP Glenda Jackson commented, “If that was presented to Parliament and the country as being up-to-date intelligence, albeit collected from a variety of sources but by British intelligence agents….. it is another example of how the government is attempting to mislead the country and Parliament on the issue of a possible war with Iraq. And of course to mislead is a Parliamentary euphemism for lying.”
The fraud deepened when it was established that the group who actually put the dossier together were not affiliated with MI6 but were a selection of junior aides from the office of Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s propagandist and spin master.
Immediately after this story began to circulate and build in intensity, the U.S. upped the terror alert level to orange and Tony Blair stationed troops and tanks at Heathrow airport. The government again terrorized the people into becoming distracted by fear and the story of the fraudulent Iraq dossier never resurfaced again.
There were also numerous attempts to link Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that the two were arch-enemies, a fact even the usually propaganda-happy New York Times was forced to accept.
“Like other Middle Eastern rulers, Saddam Hussein has long recognized that Al Qaeda and like-minded Islamists represent a threat to his regime. Consequently, he has shown no interest in working with them against their common enemy, the United States. This was the understanding of American intelligence in the 1990’s. In 1998, the National Security Council assigned staff to determine whether that conclusion was justified. After reviewing all the available intelligence that could have pointed to a connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, the group found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship.”
And yet we were subjected again and again to people like Tony Blair, George Bush and Jack Straw telling us there were clear links between Al-Qaeda and Hussein but not surprisingly they ‘couldn’t tell us the nature of those links’ because of national security concerns. Polls were then released showing that over 50% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were the same person.
Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on international terrorism at St. Andrews University, stated, “I have examined many thousands of documents from Afghanistan I could not find any links whatsoever with Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda. If there are links, they should prove it. They have an enormous intelligence budget, they have interviewed more than 1,000 al-Qaeda suspects, they have examined thousands of documents, and they have found nothing.”
Amidst empty accusations of a link between Hussein and bin Laden, angry British intelligence officials leaked a top-secret report saying that there were no links. There was, according to the BBC, growing disquiet at the way their work was being politicized to support the case for war on Iraq.
George Bush felt no qualms in continually citing discredited evidence from British intelligence sources and presenting it as gospel.
Powell’s dossier of ‘evidence’, the student essay ‘intelligence report’, the phantom links, the whole facade was an endless stream of bullshit intended to convince people who never look behind the curtain that war was justified.
Bush had decided to invade Iraq long before the dog and pony show of diplomatic attempts to have Saddam expunge his deadly non-existent arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
As far back as 1999, before he was even elected President, George W. Bush told Mickey Herskowitz, the ghostwriter of his autobiography, that he craved to invade Iraq and finish the job his father started.
Also in the late 1990’s, the ideological framework of the Bush administration, the Project For a New American Century, wrote in their own policy documents, “The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
The Downing Street Memo, a transcript of a two hour meeting between Bush and Blair at the White House on January 31st, 2003, revealed that, "Mr Bush made it clear the US intended to invade whether or not there was a second UN resolution and even if UN inspectors found no evidence of a banned Iraqi weapons programme."
During the same meeting, Bush proposed flying a U2 spy plane over Iraq painted in UN colors, goading Saddam into bringing the aircraft down in a deceptive and crass attempt to enlist UN support for an invasion.
These examples are just a handful of the hundreds of cases where Bush administration officials spewed propaganda, plotted deception and cited intelligence reports which they knew were false to bolster the case for a war which they had already resolved to wage months and even years before the smokescreen of diplomatic efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein’s imaginary weapons of mass destruction.
The fact that Scott McClellan is being attacked for pointing out the blindingly obvious is another indictment of the corporate media’s ploy of whipping up a phony controversy in an attempt to make people forget the true gargantuan scale of the lies they were told to sell the invasion of Iraq.
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