Selling the War: Weapons of Mass Destruction

After 9/11, the Iraq war was sold in two phases.

  • First it was sold to President G. W. Bush (2001 after 9/11),
  • then it was sold to Congress and the American public (2002 WMDs).

The first phase started immediately, with Rumsfeld apparently targeting Iraq from day one, and with a huge 19 hour meeting of the Defense Policy Board taking place at the end of the first week. Tellingly, Chalabi played a large role at that meeting, but ColinPowell was not informed until afterwards. The decision was to invade Iraq whether or not it was connected to 9/11.

PNAC summarized that meeting in a letter to the Washington Times signed by 40 neocons (thought not those inside the administration). It focus almost entirely on defending Israel, giving twice as much space to Hezboolla as to Osama bin Laden. By the end of 2001, Bush had been convinced to invade Iraq.

The second phase, hinged on convincing America (the rest of the world did not fall for this) that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

… thousands of tons of … mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas … growing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles … to disperse chemical or biological weapons … exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. … smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.  —President Bush, Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, Oct. 7, 2002.

But less than three years later, after a year-long exhaustive search by a team of 1400, the President’s Commission on Intelligence Capabilities filed it’s report, which it summarized as follows: 

We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. 

Although, the Commission concluded, for the most part, that the CIA had just been confused, to anyone paying attention, it was obvious all along that the neocons were just conning America. Although the neocons are a smart bunch, their Achilles’ heal is their arrogance. They simply believed they could predict everything that had happened and would happen in Iraq. They were frustrated by a complete lack of credible evidence for WMDs, but since they “knew” they must exist, and that the rest of us were fools for doubting them, they felt justified in using all sorts of fabricated evidence to con the Congress and the public. And, so they did. As to the CIA, they were not so stupid as they’ve been made out to be, and they did no which side the bread was buttered on.