Below, please find my substantiation of the above conclusion, drawing from FOX NEWS, the JERUSALEM POST, and comments from George W. BUSH himself as well as other Bush administration officials. In other words, the conclusion that Iraq did not possess WMD can be justified from sources with which even neoconservatives (of the sort that advanced the case for Iraq "regime change" by asserting that Saddam did possess WMD), and their sympathizers, cannot easily quibble.
Fox News reported, on January 12, 2005:
"The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has quietly concluded without any evidence of the banned weapons that President Bush cited as justification for going to war, the White House said Wednesday."
("Officials: Search Is Over for Iraq WMD," Fox News | Wednesday, January 12, 2005, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144143,00.html)
The Jerusalem Post reported:
John McCain, in discussing the possibility of war with Iran on the TV show "Hardball", admitted that justifying such a war would be difficult owing to the present 'credibility gap' neoconservatives have and "which was created after President George W. Bush justified the invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" that did not exist. Plainly, there would not now be a "credibility gap" if Bush's primary war justification had been vindicated.
("McCain: War with Iran would be hard sell," JPOST.COM STAFF | Apr 16, 2008 9:58 | Updated Apr 16, 2008 10:20, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1208246581260&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull)
In an article entitled "Powell regrets UN speech on Iraq WMDs", the former Secretary of State called his infamous speech " '...a blot' on his record" admitting that his speech "will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now." "In the February 2003 presentation to the UN Security Council," recall, "Mr Powell forcefully made the case for war on the regime of Saddam Hussein, offering" what Powell at the time regretably called "'proof' that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The presentation included satellite photos of trucks that Mr Powell identified as mobile bioweapons laboratories. After the invasion, US weapons inspectors reported finding no Iraqi nuclear, biological or chemical weapons." Powell said that "said he felt 'terrible' at being misinformed."
As an aside, Powell also noted that "he had 'never seen evidence to suggest' a connection between the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the Saddam regime."
(ABC News Online | Friday, September 9, 2005. 10:28am (AEST), http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200509/s1456650.htm)
Still aside, former Vice President, Dick Cheney, remarked that "...there was 'never any evidence' that Saddam Hussein's Iraq played any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. 'On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,' Cheney said during an interview Monday [June 1, 2009] night with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. 'There was some reporting early on, for example, that Mohammed Atta had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official,' Cheney said. 'But that was never borne out.' ..."
(Andy Barr, Cheney: No 'evidence' of Iraq, 9/11 link, Politico, Tue Jun 2, 12:13 pm ET, http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090602/pl_politico/23228/print)
Some have alleged, without citing any concrete evidence, that Saddam did have WMD after all, but that the reason no weapons inspectors have been able to verify this is because Saddam spirited his WMD cache out of Iraq, prior to the invasion. Syria is sometimes mentioned as the WMD destination in these speculations.
(Mention of Syria, in this regard, can perhaps be traced to comments made in April of 2003 by Israel's then prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Baghdad had just fallen to the U.S. and Sharon, for several reasons, was eager to try to direct the U.S. to quickly follow up with an attack on Damascus. In an effort to build momentum for aggression against Syria, Sharon denounced president Assad to the media as "'dangerous' ... and he [Sharon] claimed that Assad had allowed Saddam to move military equipment into Syria just before the Iraq war began." [John J. Mearshimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), p.272.] Sharon has very little credibility, here. Firstly, his comments were plainly motivated by his desire to pursuade the U.S. to attack Syria, for Israel's benefit. And, secondly, Sharon had badly misled the U.S. regarding Iraq. "Following the invasion and the revelation that there were no WMD in Iraq, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Israeli Knesset released separate reports revealing that much of the intelligence Israel gave to the Bush administration was false." [Ibid., pp. 235-6.] And, in the buildup to war with Iraq, "by Sharon's own reckoning, 'strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S. [had] reached unprecedented dimensions." [Ibid., p. 235.])
Note that according to the above-mentioned Fox News article, instead of protesting or even hinting that the WMD were moved to Syria:
President Bush himself "appointed a panel to investigate why the intelligence about Iraq's weapons was wrong".
Take note. Bush tacitly admitted that the intelligence regarding Iraqi WMD was WRONG - as in *not correct*.
Bush tacitly admitted it.
Moreover, Bush's "White House press secretary Scott McClellan said there no longer is an active search for weapons and the administration does not hold out hopes that any weapons will be found."
See, again, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144143,00.html
Hence, according to the Bush White House, the search for Iraqi WMD is over, and none were found.
The CIA's final assessment was in agreement with the White House press secretary:
"CIA's final report: No WMD found in Iraq"
"In his final word, the CIA's top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has 'gone as far as feasible' and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion. 'After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted,' wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall."
("CIA's final report: No WMD found in Iraq: Recommends freeing detainees held for weapons knowledge," AP | updated 8:24 p.m. CT, Mon., April 25, 2005, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7634313/)
As to the notion that WMD were "[transferred] from Iraq to Syria[, one of the CIA report's addenda stated that:] No information gleaned from questioning Iraqis supported the possibility... The Iraq Survey Group believes "it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place. ..."
And on the point of speculated transfers, the opinion of the Iraq Survey Group - that no such transfers took place - was echoed by "intelligence and congressional officials [who have said that] they have not seen any information - never 'a piece,' said one - indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere."
("U.S. found no evidence WMD moved from Iraq: No signs that weapons were smuggled, intelligence officials say," AP | updated 1:24 a.m. CT, Mon., Jan. 17, 2005, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6834079/)
Again, take careful note: There is no evidence of WMD transfers.
But, then again, plausibly, Iraq was not really attacked over WMD in the first place. Even administration insiders didn't care much about WMD, or a lack thereof, as early as 2003 - the year the Invasion was launched.
Curiously, during his trip to Iraq in July of 2003, a mere four months after the invasion, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz proclaimed to the Associated Press, "I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction" and relegated the issue of Iraqi WMD to a "secondary" status, when "President Bush [had] cited [allegations of Iraqi WMD capability] as his main justification for going to war".
("Wolfowitz: WMD secondary issue in Iraq," AP | Posted 7/22/2003 8:44 AM, http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-07-22-wolfowitz-iraq_x.htm)
Appallingly, "According to a stunning report posted by a retired Navy Lt Commander and 28-year veteran of the Defense Department (DoD), the Bush administration's assurance about finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was based on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to "plant" WMDs inside the country."
("US tried to plant WMDs, failed: whistleblower," Daily Times Monitor | Tuesday, August 12, 2003, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_12-8-2003_pg1_9)
Such a plan is not without historical precedent. For example, "In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban e/migre/s [emigres], sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro. America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."
(See: David Ruppe, "U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba," ABC News, May 1, 2001, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92662)
But, whatever the truth of these allegations about planting WMD, retrospect (in the form of a "study by two nonprofit journalism organizations") has revealed "that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks."
That is, Bush and other related administration personnel issued statements which are now, in hindsight, and in many cases through investigation (such as the hundreds of millions of dollars search for WMD in Iraq) known to be false.
An interesting question, then, is whether the Bush administration knowingly (i.e., intentionally) issued false statements, possibly, as the above "study concluded that the statements 'were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.' ..."; or whether the Bush administration was merely woefully incorrect.
But, the key point - about which there can be no argument - is that the Bush administration turned out to have been wrong - whether innocently or not.
It is worth mentioning, however, that the Bush White House's track record on lying is not stellar.
For instance, "The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog says White House officials pressured the agency to prematurely assure the public that the air was safe to breathe a week after the World Trade Center collapse. The agency's initial statements in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were not supported by proper air quality monitoring data and analysis, EPA's inspector general, Nikki L. Tinsley, says in a 155-page report released late Thursday. An e-mail sent just one day after the attacks, from then-EPA Deputy Administrator Linda Fisher's chief of staff to senior EPA officials, said "all statements to the media should be cleared" first by the National Security Council, the report says. Approval from the NSC, which is chaired by President Bush and serves as his main forum for discussing national security and foreign policy matters with his senior aides and Cabinet, was arranged through an official with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the report said. That council, which coordinates federal environmental efforts, in turn "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," the inspector general found. For example, the report found, EPA was convinced to omit from its early public statements guidance for cleaning indoor spaces and tips on potential health effects from airborne dust containing asbestos, lead, glass fibers and concrete. ...The White House directed EPA to add and delete information..."
(JOHN HEILPRIN, "EPA influenced by White House on air quality statements," The Associated Press, State & Local Wire August 22, 2003, Friday, BC cycle; cf.: "Spinning 9/11: The White House toned down EPA reports on air quality after terrorist attacks," The Times Union, THREE STAR EDITION, (Albany, NY; The Hearst Corporation), August 26, 2003 Tuesday, MAIN, Pg. A14.)
The Bush administration has also misrepresented paid advertisements, supportive of Bush's policies, for news stories.
(See, for example, Andrew Buncombe, "Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV',"
Independent, Monday, 29 May 2006,
Someone might object that Fox News reported that WMD WERE found after all. And, indeed, at one point, Fox News touted the discovery of "500 WMDs" inside of Iraq. The article quotes Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) as declaring: "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons."
("Report: Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq," FOXNews.com | Thursday, June 22, 2006
But, regarding the 'discovery' "...the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that ... [these "WMD" were in fact 500] abandoned shells, many found in ones and twos, [that they] were 15 years old or more, [that] their chemical contents were degraded, and [most importantly, that] they were unusable as artillery ordnance." Even the Fox article acknowledges that the shells "contain[ed] degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent".
Hence, the '500 WMD' were unusable shells that dated back to Iraq's war with Iran.
A box of unusable shells was discovered - shells which dated from the era of the Iran-Iraq war.
"Since the 1990s, such 'orphan' munitions, from among 160,000 made by Iraq and destroyed, have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise."
And this was not corroboration of the Bush Administration's allegations regarding Iraqi WMD capability.
However, despite the fact that the White House has acknowledged publicly that WMDs were never located; and despite the fact that the CIA's official report not only stated that WMD were never found, but also, that WMDs were in all likelihood NOT transferred to Syria; and despite the fact that even President Bush himself tacitly acknowledged the falsity of the "Intelligence" regarding Iraq's WMD; lamentably:
"Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD"
This disregard for the results of careful investigatiion, however, is explicable as a psychological phenomenon. Repeated claims become familiar and take on an aura of truth. And there have been many "repeaters", for example "a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office".
This "don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up" mentality is also, I must remark, a by-product of intentional exposure to psychological warfare mechanisms. And, as the Wall Street Journal reported as early as October of 2004, in the wake of 9/11: "The Pentagon...has begun deploying forces to mount psychological operations, or 'psy-ops'"
(Carla Anne Robbins, "Spin Control: U.S. Has Early Priority: Managing Its Message," Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition, New York, N.Y.: Oct 4, 2001, p. A.1.)
And, as the UPI reported in a wire report on April 10, 2006:
"'US Home Audience' Admitted Target of US Military Propaganda"
("U.S. military stoking xenophobia in Iraq," UPI, UPI NewsTrack TopNews, April 10, 2006.)
But, let us simply end where we began, and remind readers that even Fox News, which has often been Bush's defender over these past 8 years, now reports that no WMD were ever found in Iraq.
The search is over.
Even Fox News now reports that the search for WMD ended without turning up any.
Officials: Search Is Over for Iraq WMD
Fox News / AP | Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Fox News / AP | Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Anyone still advancing the notion that Iraq had WMD is either ignorant or deranged. And those still placing their faith in speculations of WMD transfers to Syria or elsewhere are simply advancing a position that even former President Bush never publicly propounded and for which there is no evidence. Being a lone voice, however, does not automatically render one incorrect, of course. But, it certainly does relocate the "burden of proof".
Until or unless solid evidence can be brought forth, contrary to the evidence and testimony cited briefly herein, and much other evidence besides, the positions that Iraq had WMD or that it transferred WMD out of the country, simply should not be rationally believed.
- Matthew J Bell (Newly Updated July 2009)