I’m Here for My Bill of Goods

“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”
George W. Bush October 7, 2002

Listen to Scott’s interview with Ray McGovern


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Whew! Lucky for us, the smoking gun came in the form of “Top Secret” notes, the authenticity of which is not disputed, of a briefing British Prime Minister Tony Blair received on July 23, 2002, from Richard Dearlove, then director of MI-6, about his trip to America in July 2002. It does indicate danger, but not from Saddam Hussein. After spending some time among his American counterparts at the CIA and the NSC, Mr. Dearlove reported,

“Military action [against Iraq] was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. …[T]he case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.”

As Ray McGovern, retired CIA analyst of 27 years, founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, and guest on my radio show of May 7 [stream] [download mp3], put it,

“As long as our evidence, however abundant and persuasive, remained circumstantial, it could not compel belief. It simply is much easier on the psyche to assent to the White House spin machine blaming the Iraq fiasco on bad intelligence than to entertain the notion that we were sold a bill of goods.

“Well, you can forget circumstantial.”

This is it folks, no more pretending. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and the rest of them are lying [.pdf], murdering war criminals. Aluminum tubes, yellowcake from Niger, mobile biological weapons laboratories, warehouses full of biological and chemical agents, remote control planes that could fly across the Atlantic Ocean to spray us with chemical weapons: every last assertion was a deliberate, premeditated lie intended to scare us into letting them kill people.

It worked, and so far their invasion has resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people and the untold destruction of their property. It has helped bin Laden “complete the radicalization of the Islamic world” and recruit thousands of new followers, pushed socialist Europe even further away from us, alienated our country from regular people all over the world, and wasted hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars.

The British notes also indicate that they were so comfortable with the option of staging a provocation that the subject only warranted one offhand phrase:

“[Option] (b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier.”

Remember the Maine?

In their meeting, they also discussed using the United Nations to help with the frame-up. While noting the U.S. National Security Council’s impatience with the UN, and the necessity of making an invasion appear legal, they decided,

“We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors … we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

“The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.”

Leaving aside the fact that “humanitarian intervention” and UN Security Council authorization [.pdf] are no justifications for invasion, get a load of Blair’s angle on the legality:

“[I]t would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.… If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.”

So much for the law applying to the government. All that is needed is the right “political context,” and they can kill whomever they want.

For anyone just catching up, here’s what we already knew: Bob Woodward, the Washington Post‘s number one “insider”; Paul O’Neill, Bush Jr.’s first Treasury secretary; Richard Clarke, his first head of counterterrorism; the reports of the Project for a New American Century; and the past 15 years of neocon history have all shown that Bush and those around him wanted to go to war with Iraq long before they took office.

We know that Dick Cheney made multiple visits to CIA headquarters to hassle the analysts who, for a time at least, lacked the proper enthusiasm for “fixing the intelligence,” and that he finally gave up. He then had the “Defense” Department’s Deputy Director for Policy Douglas J. Feith, a lawyer for arms dealers and a signatory to the “Clean Break” paper for Benjamin Netanyahu, create the Office of Special Plans to coordinate the lies and funnel them straight up to Cheney’s office, then presumably to whoever reads to the president, then to the media, and on down to us.

It is also worth noting that the Larry Franklin espionage case, the outing of Valerie Plame, and the Chalabi spy ring can all be traced back to the liars in Feith’s office.

We’ve known they were lying for some time now – this memo is just the icing on the cake.

We also know that they are rehearsing the same script against Iran right now.

Author: Scott Horton

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2021 book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and the editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,500 interviews since 2003. Scott’s articles have appeared at Antiwar.com, The American Conservative magazine, the History News Network, The Future of Freedom, The National Interest and the Christian Science Monitor. He also contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, The Impact of War. Scott lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, investigative reporter Larisa Alexandrovna Horton. He is a fan of, but no relation to the lawyer from Harper’s. Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.