EMAIL PAGE SEVEN
COLUMN NINETY-FOUR, JULY 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
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BY NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
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THE ANATOMY OF BUSH'S 'BIG LIE'
Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Missing in Action: Truth
Date: Tue, 06 May 2003 09:24:15 -0500 (EST)
From: "venire" firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6, 2003
Missing in Action: Truth
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
When I raised the Mystery of the Missing W.M.D. recently, hawks fired barrages of reproachful e-mail at me. The gist was:
"You *&#*! Who cares if we never find weapons of
mass destruction, because we've liberated the Iraqi people from a murderous
But it does matter, enormously, for American credibility.
After all, as Ari Fleischer said on April 10 about W.M.D.: "That is what
this war was about."
I rejoice in the newfound freedoms in Iraq. But there are
indications that the U.S. government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to
change their conclusions and concealed contrary information to deceive people at
home and around the world.
Let's fervently hope that tomorrow we find an Iraqi
superdome filled with 500 tons of mustard gas and nerve gas, 25,000 liters of
anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, 29,984 prohibited munitions capable
of delivering chemical agents, several dozen Scud missiles, gas centrifuges to
enrich uranium, 18 mobile biological warfare factories, long-range unmanned
aerial vehicles to dispense anthrax, and proof of close ties with Al Qaeda.
Those are the things that President Bush or his aides suggested Iraq might have,
and I don't want to believe that top administration officials tried to win
support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.
Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and
Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear
weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based
on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have
been taken seriously.
I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more
than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the
uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In
February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported
to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong
and that the documents had been forged.
The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister
whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for
more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that
the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery
was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted " except that
President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.
"It's disingenuous for the State Department people to
say they were bamboozled because they knew about this for a year," one
Another example is the abuse of intelligence from Hussein
Kamel, a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and head of Iraq's biological weapons
program until his defection in 1995. Top British and American officials kept
citing information from Mr. Kamel as evidence of a huge secret Iraqi program,
even though Mr. Kamel had actually emphasized that Iraq had mostly given up its
W.M.D. program in the early 1990's. Glen Rangwala, a British Iraq expert, says
the transcript of Mr. Kamel's debriefing was leaked because insiders resented
the way politicians were misleading the public.
Patrick Lang, a former head of Middle Eastern affairs in
the Defense Intelligence Agency, says that he hears from those still in the
intelligence world that when experts wrote reports that were skeptical about
Iraq's W.M.D., "they were encouraged to think it over again."
"In this administration, the pressure to get product
`right' is coming out of O.S.D. [the Office of the Secretary of Defense],"
Mr. Lang said. He added that intelligence experts had cautioned that Iraqis
would not necessarily line up to cheer U.S. troops and that the Shiite clergy
could be a problem. "The guys who tried to tell them that came to
understand that this advice was not welcome," he said.
"The intelligence that our officials was given
regarding W.M.D. was either defective or manipulated," Senator Jeff
Bingaman of New Mexico noted. Another senator is even more blunt and, sadly,
exactly right: "Intelligence was manipulated."
The C.I.A. was terribly damaged when William Casey, its
director in the Reagan era, manipulated intelligence to exaggerate the Soviet
threat in Central America to whip up support for Ronald Reagan's policies. Now
something is again rotten in the state of Spookdom.
Copyright 2003 The
New York Times Company ##
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