Enabling Bush’s Wars of Aggression

Bill Moyers introduced his widely anticipated PBS special – entitled “Buying the War ” – thusly;

“Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster.

“The story of how high officials misled the country has been told. But they couldn’t have done it on their own; they needed a compliant press, to pass on their propaganda as news and cheer them on.”

As we now know, the Bush-Cheney administration came to power looking for an excuse to depose Saddam Hussein.

According to the then Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neil,

“going after Saddam was topic “A”, ten days after the inauguration – eight months before Sept. 11.”

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, gave them the excuse.

On September 14, 2001, Bush issued a “Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks,” on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and “the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.”

The day before that Bush had presented draft legislation to Congress that would have given him

“[T]he authority to use all necessary and appropriate force a) against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and b) to deter and prevent any future acts of terrorism against the United States.”

But Congress refused to give Bush the blanket authority he sought to use force “to deter and prevent” future acts of terrorism. The use of force had to somehow be related to the terrorist acts of 9/11.

Not a problem.

According the Washington Post, six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush approved a Top Secret plan for invading Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against the terrorists responsible for 9/11.

Almost as a footnote, the document also directed the Pentagon to begin planning for an invasion of Iraq!

Next, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush charged that Iraq, Iran and North Korea

“[C]onstitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.”

Translation? Iraq, Iran and North Korea are “seeking” nukes which they intend to give to the terrorists responsible for 9/11!

But, at the time Bush leveled his charge, Iraq, Iran and North Korea were non-nuclear-weapon state (NNWS) signatories to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Hence, all their NPT-proscribed nuclear materials and activities had long been subject to a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA had accepted the responsibility for assuring all other NPT signatories that no NNWS had diverted safeguarded materials to a military purpose.

All of these IAEA reports about the safeguarded nuclear programs of Iraq, Iran and North Korea were freely available to the public at the IAEA website.

Nevertheless, on August 26, 2002, Cheney declared that

“We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Among other sources, we’ve gotten this from firsthand testimony from defectors, including Saddam’s own son-in-law.”

Just weeks before Moyers’ PBS special aired, Amy Goodman had interviewed, Peter Eisner, co-author of the book The Italian Letter: How the Bush Administration Used a Fake Letter to Build the Case for War in Iraq, and Carlo Bonini, co-author of the book Collusion: International Espionage and the War on Terror.

The Eisner and Bonini interviews focused on the “fake letter” delivered to the US Embassy in Rome on October 9, 2002, which purported to confirm that Niger had agreed in 2000 to supply up to 500 tons of “yellowcake” to Saddam Hussein.

But Eisner – when asked — had this to say about the “significance” of the “fake letter.”

“It comes in the context of a plan that had been hatched in the White House in the summer of 2002. The White House Iraq Group, which was basically a propaganda operation that realized that the one thing that needed to be done to sell the war in Iraq was to not deal with biological weapons, not deal with chemical weapons, but to deal with the fear and threat of a mushroom cloud – and the purveyors of language specifically said, ‘Let’s use and start hammering away the idea that a mushroom cloud is on the horizon, that we can’t wait until we have firm information, but we have information. We’ve got to act now.’

“And it was decided to wait specifically until September 8, 2002 to make that claim and to make it in a public relations campaign that included appearances on television, on radio, speeches around the world by Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and others, along with selling the story to the New York Times, which, in fact, they did.”

On Moyer’s PBS documentary, Norman Solomon – author of War Made Easy – notes that;

“The TV, radio, print, other media outlets are as crucial to going to war as the bombs and the bullets and the planes. They’re part of the arsenal, the propaganda weaponry, if you will. And that’s totally understood across the board, at the Pentagon, the White House, the State Department.”

All WHIG members knew that what Cheney had claimed on August 26, 2002 was a lie.

Hussein Kamel, Saddam’s son-in-law, had told the IAEA the exact opposite of what Cheney had claimed, and the IAEA had subsequently verified that General Kamel spoke the truth.

So Cheney lied. Many Congresspersons knew he lied. And on the eve of Bush’s pre-emptive attack on Iraq – thanks to Scott Ritter – the mainstream media also learned that Cheney had lied.

At least about what Kamel had revealed.

Did Bush administration officials tell you other lies about Iraq?

And did the mainstream media repeat those lies?

Alas, according to Moyers, “Four years after Shock and Awe, the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses.”

That’s probably because they’re too busy “enabling” Bush’s upcoming war against Iran, also based on false pretenses.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.