The Voter Quoter

Context page, showing the paragraph from which the quotation was taken, with author and other source information.

The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception—by David Corn, Crown Publishers, 2003

Excerpt from chapter 12, "Selling a War", pp. 210-212

U.N. inspectors had been sure they had destroyed much of Hussein's unconventional arms, but unsure as to what remnants—if any—remained. Perhaps they had been wrong, and Iraq had managed to hide large stockpiles from them. But Bush did not offer evidence of that. Instead, he twisted the findings of the U.N. inspectors. Nuances and uncertainties were willfully ignored by Bush officials. Insistence took the place of proof as the administration declared over and over that Saddam Hussein—no question about it—was armed with significant amounts of the world's worst weapons.

On September 13, 2002, Rumsfeld observed, "There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons.... We all know that. A trained ape knows that."

On September 28, Bush asserted, "The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more, and according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given."

On December 2, Wolfowitz said, "[Bush's] determination to use force if necessary is because of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

On December 5, Fleischer remarked, "The president of the United States and the secretary of defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true, and if they did not have a solid basis for saying it."

On December 12, Rumsfeld maintained, "It is clear that the Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction. The issue is not whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction."

On January 7, Rumsfeld commented, "There is no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons."

On January 9, Fleischer insisted, "We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

But it was not a fact—not when these statements were being made. After the war, U.S. News & World Report revealed the existence of a September 2002 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency that said, "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has—or will—establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities." The assessment noted that "a substantial amount of Iraq's chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions, and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM actions." The report did state that "Iraq probably possesses [chemical weapons] in chemical munitions, possibly including artillery rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs, and ballistic missile warheads," but that "we lack any direct information" on this subject. In other words, the Pentagon's intelligence analysts assumed Iraq had chemical weapons, but it had not confirmed this presumption. And a DIA report produced in November reached the same conclusions. Yet before and after these reports were written, Bush and his aides—including Rumsfeld, who oversaw the DIA—were stating that Iraq definitely possessed chemical weapons. In communicating absolute certitude about the existence of the threat of Iraq's WMDs, they were defying their own experts.

After the war it also turned out that the British claim—embraced by Bush—that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes had been unsubstantiated. (That would cause a tremendous row for British Prime Minister Tony Blair.) And Bush administration officials would tell the Washington Post that the White House had not bothered to consult the CIA about the British allegation before Bush repeated it.

Return to home page