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Commentary Last Updated: Mar 5th, 2008 - 00:56:30

How could they have known? It wasn't on Oprah or Fox News
By William Blum
Online Journal Guest Writer

Mar 5, 2008, 00:54

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Hillary Clinton and many other members of Congress claim that their support of the invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence reports. How could they dispute the research and analysis of all those experts, so well trained and experienced in their fields?

Well, apart from the fact that American intelligence agencies and their reports were by no means of one opinion (one well-publicized CIA paper, for example, predicted all manner of devastating consequences which could result from an invasion and occupation) . . . [1]

Apart from the fact that there were several public statements, including some on American TV, from Saddam Hussein's deputy prime minister, and other statements made by Iraqi scientists to American media and to American intelligence that Iraq no longer had any weapons of mass destruction . . . [2]

Apart from the fact that UN nuclear inspectors had determined before the war that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program . . . [3]

Apart from the fact that Colin Powell, speaking in February 2001 of US sanctions on Iraq, said: "And frankly they have worked. He [Saddam Hussein] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."[4]

Apart from all that, this question must be asked: What did the millions of Americans who marched against the war before it began know that all those members of Congress didn't know? At a minimum, they knew that nothing the Bush administration had told them came anywhere close to justifying dropping bombs on the innocent people of Iraq. They also knew that nothing the Bush administration had told them could be trusted. All it took to reach this advanced stage of awareness was not being born yesterday.

As I've written before, the same phenomenon attended the Vietnam War. The anti-Vietnam War movement burst out of the starting gate back in August 1964, with hundreds of people demonstrating in New York. Many of these early dissenters took apart and critically examined the administration's statements about the war's origin, its current situation, and its rosy picture of the future. They found continuous omission, contradiction, and duplicity, became quickly and wholly cynical, and called for immediate and unconditional withdrawal. This was a state of intellect and principle it took members of Congress and the media -- and then only a small minority -- until the 1970s to reach. And even then -- even today -- our political and media elite viewed Vietnam only as a "mistake"; i.e., it was "the wrong way" to fight communism, not that the United States should not be traveling all over the globe to spew violence against anything labeled "communism" in the first place. Essentially, the only thing these "best and brightest" have learned from Vietnam is that we should not have fought in Vietnam. And I'm afraid that the present generation of "leaders" will learn very little more than that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq.


[1] Central Intelligence Agency, "The Perfect Storm: Planning for Negative Consequences of Invading Iraq," August 13, 2002

[2] Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz in August 2002 told Dan Rather: "We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons."(CBS Evening News, August 20, 2002) In December he stated to Ted Koppel: "The fact is that we don't have weapons of mass destruction. We don't have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry."(ABC Nightline, December 4, 2002)

Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq's secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995, that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War.(Washington Post, March 1, 2003, page 15)

[3] Washington Post, July 11, 2004

[4] State Department press release, February 24, 2001

William Blum is the author of "Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2," "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," "West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir" and "Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire."

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