Torture’s Role in the Rush to War With Iraq

You’ve probably heard that Bush-Cheney and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz had already developed plans to invade and occupy Iraq, months before the Saudi terrorists attacked the Pentagon and brought down the World Trade Center Twin Towers. These conspirators immediately set out to justify their impending war of aggression on your fear that Islamic terrorists might well strike again, this time with "weapons of mass destruction."

War of aggression?

But didn’t Congress authorize Bush to use "military force" against Iraq in October 2002?

Well, no, and thereby hangs a tale.

On her show this week, Rachel Maddow first provided documentary film evidence of both Bush and Cheney repeatedly alleging that Saddam Hussein was not only "connected" to the Islamic terrorist organization al-Qaeda – believed to have been responsible for both the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers – but had actually trained and provided support to the terrorists.

Then Maddow astonishingly got Charles Duelfer – chief of the Iraq Survey Group, sent into Iraq by then-CIA director George Tenet, while the invasion was still in progress, primarily to discover and secure the weapons of mass destruction that the on-the-ground United Nations inspectors had already determined were nonexistent – to amplify upon his report written back in 2003 that "someone" (not in the CIA) "in Washington" had suggested he use waterboarding on a high-level Iraqi military intelligence official then being questioned by Duelfer, in order to obtain confirmation of the Bush-Cheney allegations about Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Next, Maddow got Bob Windrem, senior research fellow at NYU and former NBC executive producer, to amplify upon his report earlier that day that Duelfer’s "someone" was in Cheney’s office.

Now, back in early 2003, Duelfer had already reported to Tenet that the Iraqis were cooperating totally and that the CIA had obviously got it completely wrong (and that the UN inspectors had got it right) about WMDs in Iraq. So Duelfer couldn’t understand why "someone" would "suggest" he use torture to get Iraqis to confirm allegations of Saddam’s association with al-Qaeda – allegations that seemed to Duelfer, in Iraq, to be absolutely absurd.

So this week, Maddow proceeded to explain it all to Duelfer and the rest of us. Bush-Cheney had been using torture since shortly after the 2001 attacks in so-far unsuccessful attempts to get anyone they could lay their hands on in Afghanistan or Pakistan to "admit" that Saddam had long had a close association with al-Qaeda.

Trouble was, Bush-Cheney couldn’t even get someone they waterboarded six times a day for a month to "admit" that their allegations about Saddam and terrorists were true.

Why was getting those "admissions" so important to Bush-Cheney?

Well, scroll back to September 2002. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, had just created the White House Iraq Group, whose mission it was to convince Congress and the American people that Saddam Hussein was an existential threat.

In October, Tenet hastily prepared for WHIG a "slam-dunk" National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq’s "Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction," which included this zinger:

"Saddam, if sufficiently desperate, might decide that only an organization such as al-Qaeda – with worldwide reach and extensive terrorist infrastructure, and already engaged in a life-or-death struggle against the United States – could perpetrate the type of terrorist attack that he would hope to conduct.

"In such circumstances, he might decide that the extreme step of assisting the Islamist terrorists in conducting a CBW attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."

That "slam-dunk" NIE was also presented to Congress and was the basis for the drafting by the Bush-Cheney White House of a congressional resolution [.pdf] authorizing the use of U.S. armed forces against Iraq, which passed several days later, with only one important modification.

Congress made that authorization conditional!

To wit:

“In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the president shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either

(A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or

(B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

Now, on Nov. 8, Bush did get the UN Security Council to pass UNSCR 1441, which required Saddam to immediately provide UN inspectors "unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all" Iraqi facilities and officials.

But, to the absolute astonishment of Bush-Cheney, Saddam agreed to fully comply, and by March 2003, it was obvious to the whole world, as a result of numerous reports by the UN chief inspectors, that no attempts had even been made to reconstitute whatever WMD programs Saddam may have once had.


No Iraqi WMDs! Saddam in compliance with all UN resolutions!

What to do?

Well, try Plan B. Claim that it is absolutely necessary to invade and occupy Iraq because of Saddam’s continuing association with, and assistance to, Osama bin Laden and his band of terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers on their second attempt.

But what about that presidential determination that Congress had required him to make in order to make the use of that congressional authorization legal?

Well, Bush has yet to provide such a presidential determination!

However, Bush did send Congress a "report" [.pdf] on the day he launched his immoral and illegal – even under U.S. law – war of aggression against Iraq, which began by falsely claiming,

"This report also explains that a determination to use force against Iraq is fully consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

So now you know why Bush-Cheney tortured all those Muslims: to get them to "admit" that they were the war-criminals, not Bush-Cheney.

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.