ONTD Political

MSNBC Doc lays out what we already knew about Iraq, but in even more ghastly detail.

9:33 pm - 02/16/2013
"Hubris": New Documentary Reexamines the Iraq War "Hoax"



An MSNBC film, hosted by Rachel Maddow and based on Michael Isikoff and David Corn's book, finds new evidence that Bush scammed the nation into war.

A decade ago, on March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq that would lead to a nine-year war resulting in 4,486 dead American troops, 32,226 service members wounded, and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians. The tab for the war topped $3 trillion. Bush did succeed in removing Saddam Hussein, but it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and no significant operational ties between Saddam's regime and Al Qaeda. That is, the two main assertions used by Bush and his crew to justify the war were not true. Three years after the war began, Michael Isikoff, then an investigative reporter for Newsweek (he's since moved to NBC News), and I published Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, a behind-the-scenes account of how Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants deployed false claims, iffy intelligence, and unsupported hyperbole to win popular backing for the invasion.

Our book—hailed by the New York Times as "the most comprehensive account of the White House's political machinations"—was the first cut at an important topic: how a president had swindled the nation into war with a deliberate effort to hype the threat. The book is now the basis for an MSNBC documentary of the same name that marks the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war. Hosted by Rachel Maddow, the film premieres Monday night in her usual time slot (9PM ET/PT). But the documentary goes beyond what Isikoff and I covered in Hubris, presenting new scoops and showing that the complete story of the selling of that war has yet to be told.

One chilling moment in the film comes in an interview with retired General Anthony Zinni, a former commander in chief of US Central Command. In August 2002, the Bush-Cheney administration opened its propaganda campaign for war with a Cheney speech at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. The veep made a stark declaration: "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us." No doubt, he proclaimed, Saddam was arming himself with WMD in preparation for attacking the United States.

Zinni was sitting on the stage during the speech, and in the documentary he recalls his reaction:


It was a shock. It was a total shock. I couldn't believe the vice president was saying this, you know? In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD, through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.



That Zinni quote should almost end the debate on whether the Bush-Cheney administration purposefully guided the nation into war with misinformation and disinformation.

But there's more. So much more. The film highlights a Pentagon document declassified two years ago. This memo notes that in November 2001—shortly after the 9/11 attacks—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with General Tommy Franks to review plans for the "decapitation" of the Iraqi government. The two men reviewed how a war against Saddam could be triggered; that list included a "dispute over WMD inspections." It's evidence that the administration was seeking a pretense for war.

The yellowcake uranium supposedly bought by Saddam in Niger, the aluminum tubes supposedly used to process uranium into weapons-grade material, the supposed connection between Saddam and Osama bin Laden—the documentary features intelligence analysts and experts who at the time were saying and warning that the intelligence on these topics was wrong or uncertain. Yet administration officials kept using lousy and inconclusive intelligence to push the case for war.

Through the months-long run-up to the invasion, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, would become the administration's No. 1 pitchman for the war with a high-profile speech at the UN, which contained numerous false statements about Iraq and WMD. But, the documentary notes, he was hiding from the public his deep skepticism. In the film, Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff at the time, recalls the day Congress passed a resolution authorizing Bush to attack Iraq:



Powell walked into my office and without so much as a fare-thee-well, he walked over to the window and he said, "I wonder what'll happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing?"And he turned around and walked back in his office. And I—I wrote that down on my calendar—as close for—to verbatim as I could, because I thought that was a profound statement coming from the secretary of state, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.




Wilkerson also notes that Powell had no idea about the veracity of the intelligence he cited during that UN speech: "Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied, we did participate in a hoax."

A hoax. That's what it was. Yet Bush and Cheney went on to win reelection, and many of their accomplices in this swindle never were fully held accountable. In the years after the WMD scam became apparent, there certainly was a rise in public skepticism and media scrutiny of government claims. Still, could something like this happen again? Maddow remarks, "If what we went through 10 years ago did not change us as a nation—if we do not understand what happened and adapt to resist it—then history says we are doomed to repeat it."
Source@ Mother Jones
romp 17th-Feb-2013 05:46 am (UTC)
Is this still not widely known? I recall my lefties news sources were clear at the time that it was an invention. But Bush and Co kept appearing on TV saying "9/11 blahblahblah Hussein blahblahblah terror blahblahblah freedom."

I tried to explain this to my father who said it wasn't great to invade Iraq but needed to be done because of 9/11. I asked how Hussein was connected and he couldn't say but had clearly gotten the intended message from the White House. Sickening to watch it happen and be unable to find an alarm loud enough.
nesmith 17th-Feb-2013 06:40 am (UTC)
The thing I still, to this day, do not understand is how no one seems to be outraged over this. I just don't get it.
anaralia 17th-Feb-2013 06:55 am (UTC)
IKR it's like everybody agreed to stop talking about it. But the right wing radio a coworker listens to still like to bring up Bill Clinton. "The only president to ever be impeached" the host yells, and then when people call in to tell him Clinton's not the only one he yells "I said elected! The only ELECTED president to ever have been impeached" sigh.
nesmith 17th-Feb-2013 07:04 am (UTC)
I think it's sad that they'd heap more blame on a man for being impeached for a blowjob than a man whose lies led to death and destruction and a nearly incomprehensible debt. Seems to be a bit backwards.
everstar3 18th-Feb-2013 02:30 am (UTC)
Hey, we tried to impeach Nixon, but he quit first.
blackjedii 17th-Feb-2013 12:08 pm (UTC)
To be enraged is to acknowledge that A) we screwed up B) we, the JUSTICE OF THE EARTH, screwed up and C) that the country essentially pulled some war crimes

And we've gotten far too used to being in war to realize that, you know, we don't have to be
nonnycat 19th-Feb-2013 04:28 am (UTC)
The folks I know and knew during the Bush Administration are outraged -- but they've become incredibly cynical through everything that happened during the administration, and Obama's continuation of certain things. A lot of them have a "fuck it, I can vote but my reps won't bring any of this up, and being vocal about this just puts me at risk because nobody will do anything, so why the fuck bother?" sort of attitude these days. :-\
jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 10:25 am (UTC)
Zinni and Powell talking after the fact?

I am unimpressed. Speak up beforehand next time.

jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 10:26 am (UTC)
Not that anyone with a working brain and a working Internet connection actually believed this shit at the time.
cinnamontoast 17th-Feb-2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
Everyone that spoke up was labeled a conspiracy nut and/or un-Patriotic/American. There was a distinct stench of McCarthyism in the air at the time and it was scary.

From Into The Buzzsaw:

Each of the new chapters documents how journalists have experienced increased censorship in the aftermath of September 11th: Dan Rather speaks frankly of the pressure to report "friendly" news or risk being labeled unpatriotic; Charles Reina, formerly of Fox News, reveals the existence of "The Memo," a daily Bush-era e-mail "addressing what stories [would] be covered" and how; and MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield relates how her candid, extemporaneous personal observations on media coverage of the Middle East (given in a lecture at Kansas State University) drew the ire of corporate executives. Most disturbing is Charlotte Dennett's analysis of how the media "missed the context" between the Bush administration's war on terror and "the Great Game for oil."

We should remember what happened to Dan Rather.
jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Iraq makes me so emotional.

Mainly though: the length of time the people have suffered there.

Bill Clinton also gets such a pass from people. I don't care about a sexual encounter. I care about a pharmaceutical company in Sudan, and sanctions in Iraq (among other things).

1.5 million people starved to death in the '90s. "We feel, we feel that is worth it" - yes. Thank you Ms Albright. It's all swept under the carpet. I suppose dying more visibly on TV rather than dying from lack of antibiotics, a poisoned sewer system, the general effects of sanctions on a fully industrialized society, children without insulin, mothers dying of childbirth - in the fucking twentieth century, children dying of starvation...it's a slow, horrible way to die.

And then the war began I entered such a deep depression. I was so naive - even well into my twenties. I really thought protests that huge in Europe would prevent **Great Britain** from joining - I was that fucking naive. I knew American would go in when I heard the state of the union - that was obvious. They had decided, it was happening. But millions of people in London? Topping the poll tax protests? And millions in Spain? And millions in Italy. I was so naive.

My own country - Germany - didn't go and that seemed, at the time, to create a momentum that kept France out - but not England. And then Labour won the next one anyway because even with Tony Fucking Blair, the Conservatives had voted for war too.

tl;dr - everything about this makes me so sad and weepy.
jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
LOL - I was meandering in the other comment.

Dan Rather is an excellent example. And so is Phil O'Donahue (spelling?) and "the distinct stench of McCarthyism".

I mentioned one of my countries: there's also Canada. I nearly forgot: we didn't go either. There was just no announcement. A typical piece of genius political maneouvring from Jean Chretien: "oh oops, the war started and we never did hold that vote..."

Even I forgave him a lot of shit when he did that.
cinnamontoast 17th-Feb-2013 11:16 pm (UTC)
In the US there were a couple of people in Congress who spoke out against the war in Iraq. One was utterly smeared by both parties and any support she had from her party was withdrawn. The other has long been labeled a loon by members of his own party, but his constituents keep sending him back, which is something, I suppose.

A giant fist was raised, so I understand why the governments of smaller nations didn't go up against the US.

As for Clinton, Republicans made a big deal out of the number of Iraq citizens that died during the embargo in the '90s. The American people paid attention. The opposing argument was made that Hussein made the decision to kill his own citizens when he allowed the embargo to continue by not allowing the inspections to take place.

I don't agree, but that explains it.
jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
I didn't know they did that in the nineties. It seems precarious - that one side (or the other) cares (or not) on every and all issues as a means of getting back at the other party.

We're not much better here up North, really. We just don't have politicians who are that powerful! They would if they could...
cinnamontoast 18th-Feb-2013 12:28 am (UTC)
Republicans are using Benghazi as an issue now. It's sort of jaw-dropping when you think of it.

I wish I lived in Canada. It seems so nice and quiet.
jenny_jenkins 18th-Feb-2013 01:29 am (UTC)
I can be a little dull up here sometimes, but things could be worse and probably aren't much better anywhere else.

:)
everstar3 18th-Feb-2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Phil Donahue. Gosh, I haven't thought of him for a while; I wonder what he's doing now?
jenny_jenkins 18th-Feb-2013 03:08 am (UTC)
I actually don't know.

That man was running television's most popular show when he was fired during the build-up.

It was censorship, McCarthyism...you name it.
ook 17th-Feb-2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
I suppose this is when the current GOP policy of "lie lie lie and, when you're caught, just lie some more" came into popularity.
cinnamontoast 18th-Feb-2013 12:34 am (UTC)
No, that was during the Iran-Contra scandal. Back then they more or less stuck to "I don't recall." They had years of practice to perfect it. Now they can bend Conservative Reality™ to whatever falls out of their collective ass.
eveofrevolution 17th-Feb-2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
UGH these assholes. I do want to see this though.

OP: jsyk your Bush tag is for Bush Sr, not Jr. Should be "George W. Bush"
ladylothwen 17th-Feb-2013 04:50 pm (UTC)
I remember being really confused as to why we were invading Iraq. I was about 13-14 at the time and just wasn't not buying it. My Fox News loving father is still adament that there were WMDs and I just don't get it. I don't understand how we're not more outraged we were lied to and douped into going into war. We as a society are so used to it and removed from it that we apparently don't care.
apostle_of_eris 18th-Feb-2013 01:35 am (UTC)
Here is where Saddam Hussein got his poison gas. (After the Iranians finally threw out the puppet "Shah", the Reaganites asked their friend Saddam Hussein to invade, just to fuck things up. Donald Rumsfeld, a chancre left over, with his protege Dick Cheney, from the Nixon Administration, made a personal trip to deliver munitions . . . )
bnmc2005 17th-Feb-2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
I remember watching Colin Powell up there with his "proof" and thinking, those are cartoons. The evidence was literally bad illustrator graphics of what might be hidden somewhere and it looked like... comics.

I remember thinking ... what the fuck is this? People are buying it?

What infuriates me is that they had no proof to offer, no evidence, and people bought it because it was Official people lending their own word and reputation to sell this war.
jenny_jenkins 17th-Feb-2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Apparently, before going out, he read his "script" and said "what the fuck is this bullshit" or words to that effect.

I wish so much he'd been courageous and refused to go out.

And the coverage at the time! JFC - "it's the Adlai Stevenson of the new century!" LOL - really? I was like you: what the fuck is this? This is childish deception. It wasn't even clever.

And as an aside: FUCKING DO NOT COMPARE THESE WARMONGERS TO ADLAI STEVENSON

Is nothing sacred??
mhael Old news is old.17th-Feb-2013 08:00 pm (UTC)
That said, this makes me miss bluetooth16, in a hipster, ironic way. Right about now is when she'd show up, talking about stanning the Bush Administration and how it's all lies, LIES, they DID have WMD's, we WEREN'T lied to, Cheney and Bush really ARE great men and the greatest asset our nation has ever had, etc., etc.

I wonder if she ever stopped drinking that kool-aid? Somehow I very much doubt it.

Edited at 2013-02-17 08:01 pm (UTC)
beuk Re: Old news is old.17th-Feb-2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I think about what her reaction to articles posted here would be.

If only.

Remember how long it took her to finally get over her Palin stanning?
mhael Re: Old news is old.18th-Feb-2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
The fact that she no longer shows her face here is (HOPEFULLY) indicative that she's just too utterly humiliated about her foolishness and gullibility after finally growing the hell up and accepting the truth. People who banged the drum for that regime deserve every bit of embarrassment they feel, if not worse.
eyetosky Re: Old news is old.18th-Feb-2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, Bluetooth! Oh man, that makes me so nostalgic for the buildup to the '08 election! That's when I first joined, and one of the first things I learned was that "Bluetooth just says this stuff. Go with it."
everstar3 18th-Feb-2013 02:35 am (UTC)
I'm still bewildered that people thought it was plausible Saddam Hussein had managed to restart a weapons development program. The whole fricking country had been under embargo and near-constant surveillance since the end of the first Gulf War, and UN weapons inspectors kept going in and looking around. Given all the scrutiny Iraq was under, how the hell were they supposed to be hiding it? Wizards?

I want to be angry about this still. Hell, I'd love to see some down-and-dirty congressional hearings that dug into all this muck. But I know it's not going to happen. Sigh. :(
zhiva_the_mage 18th-Feb-2013 01:23 pm (UTC)
so what did US start the war for? Was it supposed to be a short victorious war or something?
romp 18th-Feb-2013 08:08 pm (UTC)
I've heard that Bush II had vowed revenge on Hussein on behalf of his father. Then this opportunity came up. You'd think the US military couldn't be used for a personal vendetta but I think it was also a handy reaction to 9/11. The public wanted *someone* to pay.

And oil.

PS: Wikipedia has a long entry in answer to your question.

Edited at 2013-02-18 08:10 pm (UTC)
mhael Also:18th-Feb-2013 03:29 pm (UTC)
This article totally reminded me of how much I can't stand Colin Powell now, the war-mongering-assisting jackwagon. You'd think a guy with that many medals, that high a post, and that much steeping in a culture of "military honor" would have a stiffer backbone and wiser mind. The fact that he really, REALLY hates talking about that fiasco, and will deflect or redirect any questions about it just goes to show how wrong he knows he was (yet is unable to summon an OUNCE of public apology for it).

Between him and post-2000 John McCain, I don't know who disappoints me more.
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