For the past six years, activists, progressive bloggers and a handful of traditional media pundits have accused Mister Bush, Richard Bruce Cheney and others in the cronyfest running the executive branch of lying us into Iraq. The relentless response - everybody from Condoleeza Rice to Bill Kristol to the least-read right-wing pundithug - has been to say we're the liars, and traitors as well, for daring suggest such a thing at a time when the nation faces the most dire threat since Adolf Hitler gave the go-ahead to heavy-water experiments, blah, blah, blah.
Eventually - without apologies, of course - there were a few admissions delivered in the passive-aggressive tense popularized decades ago by Richard Nixon: "mistakes were made."
Now, thanks to the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, everybody can check out those lies for themselves at The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War.
Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith at CPI write:
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.
It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. ...
In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.
Those 935 lies, by the way, do not include "indirect false statements" such as that Iraq had possession of "dangerous weapons."
No single lie is going to surprise anybody who has been following the fabrications of the Cheney-Bush administration. But CPI has done a real service to place nearly 1000 of these in one easy-to-access location.
Mister Bush told the most lies: 259. Colin Powell clocked in second with 244 lies.
As for the administration response, the Boston Globe reports:
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.
"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.
Uh-huh. Time to start a new database.