20 Lies About The Iraqi War


Falsehoods ranging from exaggeration to plain untruth were used
to make the case for war. More lies are being used in the aftermath.

by Glen Rangwala and Raymond Whitaker, The Independent, July 13, 2003


1) Iraq was responsible for the 11 September attacks

A supposed meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, leader of the 11
September hijackers, and an Iraqi intelligence official was the main basis
for this claim, but Czech intelligence later conceded that the Iraqi's
contact could not have been Atta. This did not stop the constant stream of
assertions that Iraq was involved in 9/ 11, which was so successful that at
one stage opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Americans believed the
hand of Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks. Almost as many believed
Iraqi hijackers were aboard the crashed airliners; in fact there were none.

2) Iraq and al-Qa'ida were working together

Persistent claims by US and British leaders that Saddam and Osama bin Laden were in league with each other were contradicted by a leaked British
Defence Intelligence Staff report, which said there were no current links
between them. Mr Bin Laden's "aims are in ideological conflict with
present-day Iraq", it added.

Another strand to the claims was that al-Qa'ida members were being
sheltered in Iraq, and had set up a poisons training camp. When US troops
reached the camp, they found no chemical or biological traces.

3) Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa for a "reconstituted" nuclear
weapons programme

The head of the CIA has now admitted that documents purporting to show that Iraq tried to import uranium from Niger in west Africa were forged, and
that the claim should never have been in President Bush's State of the
Union address. Britain sticks by the claim, insisting it has "separate
intelligence". The Foreign Office conceded last week that this information
is now "under review".

4) Iraq was trying to import aluminium tubes to develop nuclear weapons

The US persistently alleged that Baghdad tried to buy high-strength
aluminum tubes whose only use could be in gas centrifuges, needed to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Equally persistently, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the tubes were being used for artillery rockets. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, told the UN Security Council in
January that the tubes were not even suitable for centrifuges.

5) Iraq still had vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the
first Gulf War

Iraq possessed enough dangerous substances to kill the whole world, it was
alleged more than once. It had pilotless aircraft which could be smuggled
into the US and used to spray chemical and biological toxins. Experts
pointed out that apart from mustard gas, Iraq never had the technology to
produce materials with a shelf- life of 12 years, the time between the two
wars. All such agents would have deteriorated to the point of uselessness
years ago.

6) Iraq retained up to 20 missiles which could carry chemical or biological
warheads, with a range which would threaten British forces in Cyprus

Apart from the fact that there has been no sign of these missiles since the
invasion, Britain downplayed the risk of there being any such weapons in
Iraq once the fighting began. It was also revealed that chemical protection
equipment was removed from British bases in Cyprus last year, indicating
that the Government did not take its own claims seriously.

7) Saddam Hussein had the wherewithal to develop smallpox

This allegation was made by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his
address to the UN Security Council in February. The following month the UN
said there was nothing to support it.

8) US and British claims were supported by the inspectors

According to Jack Straw, chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix "pointed out" that Iraq had 10,000 litres of anthrax. Tony Blair said Iraq's chemical,
biological and "indeed the nuclear weapons programme" had been well
documented by the UN. Mr Blix's reply? "This is not the same as saying
there are weapons of mass destruction," he said last September. "If I had
solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction or were
constructing such weapons, I would take it to the Security Council." In May
this year he added: "I am obviously very interested in the question of
whether or not there were weapons of mass destruction, and I am beginning
to suspect there possibly were not."

9) Previous weapons inspections had failed

Tony Blair told this newspaper in March that the UN had "tried
unsuccessfully for 12 years to get Saddam to disarm peacefully". But in
1999 a Security Council panel concluded: "Although important elements still
have to be resolved, the bulk of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes has
been eliminated." Mr Blair also claimed UN inspectors "found no trace at
all of Saddam's offensive biological weapons programme" until his
son-in-law defected. In fact the UN got the regime to admit to its
biological weapons programme more than a month before the defection.

10) Iraq was obstructing the inspectors

Britain's February "dodgy dossier" claimed inspectors' escorts were
"trained to start long arguments" with other Iraqi officials while evidence
was being hidden, and inspectors' journeys were monitored and notified
ahead to remove surprise. Dr Blix said in February that the UN had
conducted more than 400 inspections, all without notice, covering more than
300 sites. "We note that access to sites has so far been without problems,"
he said. : "In no case have we seen convincing evidence that the Iraqi side
knew that the inspectors were coming."

11) Iraq could deploy its weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes

This now-notorious claim was based on a single source, said to be a serving
Iraqi military officer. This individual has not been produced since the
war, but in any case Tony Blair contradicted the claim in April. He said
Iraq had begun to conceal its weapons in May 2002, which meant that they
could not have been used within 45 minutes.

12) The "dodgy dossier"

Mr Blair told the Commons in February, when the dossier was issued: "We
issued further intelligence over the weekend about the infrastructure of
concealment. It is obviously difficult when we publish intelligence
reports." It soon emerged that most of it was cribbed without attribution
from three articles on the internet. Last month Alastair Campbell took
responsibility for the plagiarism committed by his staff, but stood by the
dossier's accuracy, even though it confused two Iraqi intelligence
organisations, and said one moved to new headquarters in 1990, two years
before it was created.

13) War would be easy

Public fears of war in the US and Britain were assuaged by assurances that
oppressed Iraqis would welcome the invading forces; that "demolishing
Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk",
in the words of Kenneth Adelman, a senior Pentagon official in two previous
Republican administrations. Resistance was patchy, but stiffer than
expected, mainly from irregular forces fighting in civilian clothes. "This
wasn't the enemy we war-gamed against," one general complained.

14) Umm Qasr

The fall of Iraq's southernmost city and only port was announced several
times before Anglo-American forces gained full control - by Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others, and by Admiral Michael Boyce,
chief of Britain's defence staff. "Umm Qasr has been overwhelmed by the US
Marines and is now in coalition hands," the Admiral announced, somewhat
prematurely.

15) Basra rebellion

Claims that the Shia Muslim population of Basra, Iraq's second city, had
risen against their oppressors were repeated for days, long after it became
clear to those there that this was little more than wishful thinking. The
defeat of a supposed breakout by Iraqi armour was also announced by
military spokesman in no position to know the truth.

16) The "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch

Private Jessica Lynch's "rescue" from a hospital in Nasiriya by American
special forces was presented as the major "feel-good" story of the war. She
was said to have fired back at Iraqi troops until her ammunition ran out,
and was taken to hospital suffering bullet and stab wounds. It has since
emerged that all her injuries were sustained in a vehicle crash, which left
her incapable of firing any shot. Local medical staff had tried to return
her to the Americans after Iraqi forces pulled out of the hospital, but the
doctors had to turn back when US troops opened fire on them. The special
forces encountered no resistance, but made sure the whole episode was filmed.

17) Troops would face chemical and biological weapons

As US forces approached Baghdad, there was a rash of reports that they
would cross a "red line", within which Republican Guard units were
authorised to use chemical weapons. But Lieutenant General James Conway,
the leading US marine general in Iraq, conceded afterwards that
intelligence reports that chemical weapons had been deployed around Baghdad before the war were wrong.

"It was a surprise to me ... that we have not uncovered weapons ... in some
of the forward dispersal sites," he said. "We've been to virtually every
ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there. We were simply wrong. Whether or not we're wrong at the national level, I think still very much remains to be seen."

18) Interrogation of scientists would yield the location of WMD

"I have got absolutely no doubt that those weapons are there ... once we
have the co-operation of the scientists and the experts, I have got no
doubt that we will find them," Tony Blair said in April. Numerous similar
assurances were issued by other leading figures, who said interrogations
would provide the WMD discoveries that searches had failed to supply. But
almost all Iraq's leading scientists are in custody, and claims that
lingering fears of Saddam Hussein are stilling their tongues are beginning
to wear thin.

19 Iraq's oil money would go to Iraqis

Tony Blair complained in Parliament that "people falsely claim that we want
to seize" Iraq's oil revenues, adding that they should be put in a trust
fund for the Iraqi people administered through the UN. Britain should seek
a Security Council resolution that would affirm "the use of all oil
revenues for the benefit of the Iraqi people".

Instead Britain co-sponsored a Security Council resolution that gave the US
and UK control over Iraq's oil revenues. There is no UN-administered trust
fund.

Far from "all oil revenues" being used for the Iraqi people, the resolution
continues to make deductions from Iraq's oil earnings to pay in
compensation for the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

20) WMD were found

After repeated false sightings, both Tony Blair and George Bush proclaimed
on 30 May that two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological
laboratories. "We have already found two trailers, both of which we believe
were used for the production of biological weapons," said Mr Blair. Mr Bush
went further: "Those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing
devices or banned weapons - they're wrong. We found them." It is now almost certain that the vehicles were for the production of hydrogen for weather balloons, just as the Iraqis claimed - and that they were exported by Britain.

Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=424008



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