A television documentary on Iraq’s WMDs, what?
President Bush: Haunted by ghost weapons of mass destruction
As US President George W. Bush and his neocon warmongers this week blew the four candles on the poison cake placed on the mass grave that was Iraq, there was little mention in the mainstream Western media about how it all began-about the Bush administration's claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and it had links with the terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
The power of the Bush administration's marketing strategy in selling its casus belli was such that more than 70 percent of Americans, according to surveys conducted in 2003, believed Iraq had a hand in the 9/11 attacks and it possessed WMDs.
Four years on, Western media, which embedded itself with the US military, prostituting journalism and producing bastardized news, thought it fit to keep mum on the WMD issue.
Many of the documentaries made by western TV channels to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion in violation of the UN charter and international law, focused largely about the present problems in Iraq.
There were no documentaries on what Bush, Blair and other warmongers said about WMDs.
To fill the void, this column takes the form of a documentary. This column invites readers to recall the scenes showing the attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
The next scene takes the reader to a series of Bush speeches.
Narrator: Bush’s first major speech in the aftermath of the attack, had no mention of Iraq, although long before 9/11, the President, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had begun to draw up the plan for Iraq. Read award-winning Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s book Plan for Attack to get more than a glimpse of how White House big wigs set the ball rolling for the invasion. But within months, in subsequent speeches, Bush turned his attention from al-Qaeda to Iraq.
The narration continues...
The January 29, 2002 State of the Union address gave a hint about the things to come. In retrospect, it was an attempt to prepare the American psyche for a full-scale aggression on a sovereign state which had nothing to do with 9/11.
The first part of the speech was about how the United States dealt with al-Qaeda terror and ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It also contained US plans to hit hard at terrorists.
Bush: “Many nations are acting forcefully.... But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.” (A clip from the 2002 State of the Union address).
Narrator: Then in a subtle and carefully crafted manner he linked the war on terror with some regimes that sponsored terror.
Bush: “Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction.” (clip)
Narrator: This was probably the first time Bush used the word weapons of mass destruction.
Bush: “Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September 11. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.
“Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens — leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections — then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.
“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.” (clips from 2002 State of the Union address.)
Narrator: Four years on, it has now become clear that Saddam Hussein did not mislead the civlised world, but Bush did.
(The scene then shifts to the 2003 State of the Union address.)
Narrator: The word al-Qaeda occurred only eight times in the 5,500-word text of the 2003 speech. There was no Osama bin Laden in it. Iraq, on the other hand, was mentioned 22 times and Saddam Hussein 19 times.
It was a clear indication of the Bush administration’s determination to prepare Americans for the war on Iraq.
Bush: “Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.” (Clips from 2003 State of the Union address).
The documentary then interviews Scott Ritter who served with the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) in Iraq and said prior to the war that Iraq had virtually destroyed its WMD arsenal.
Narrator: Ritter was in charge of searching for weapons of mass destruction. He undertook more than 40 inspection tours to Iraq and was content with the cooperation extended by the Saddam Hussein regime.
Ritter, a former US Marine officer, quit the UNSCOM, after he was convinced that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He recently authored the book, “Iraq Confidential: The Untold story of America’s Intelligence Conspiracy”.
Ritter: “There’s no doubt Iraq hasn’t fully complied with its disarmament obligations as set forth by the Security Council in its resolution. But on the other hand, since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity has been verifiably eliminated… We have to remember that this missing 5-10% doesn’t necessarily constitute a threat… It constitutes bits and pieces of a weapons program which in its totality doesn’t amount to much, but which is still prohibited…
“We eliminated the nuclear program, and for Iraq to have reconstituted it would require undertaking activities that would have been eminently detectable by intelligence services.
“If Iraq were producing [chemical] weapons today, we’d have proof, pure and simple.”
(‘War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You To Know,’ a 2002 publication which consists largely of an interview between Ritter and anti-war activist William Rivers Pitt, the book’s author).
Narrator: What Ritter said then had been substantiated by David Kay, US chief weapons inspector, who spent several months in Iraq after the invasion, looking for the missing 29,000 odd WMDs, which Bush in his speeches claimed Iraq as possessing.
David Kay, was the Bush administration’s man, to whom reporters were directed when they sought clarifications on Saddam’s alleged WMDs. On January 23, 2004, he resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, a body assigned to locate the WMDs.
Kay: "I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them."
“It turns out that we were all wrong. I believe that the effort that has been directed to this point has been sufficiently intense that it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed, militarized chemical weapons there.”
The Narrator then talks about the evidence Collin Powel produced before the UN Security Council to muster the world body’s support for the invasion.
Next scene: The documentary shows a clip of a New York Times article written by former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame whose cover as a CIA operative was blown unpatriotically by someone in the White House. Wilson said the Bush adminsitration’s claims of WMDs were overstated.
Narrator: Wilson was not the only person to hold this view. BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan in his Today Programme said the dossier the Blair government presented to justify the decision to go to war was highly sexed up.
A few days later, Gilligan’s source, David Kelly, the WMD expert at Britain’s Ministry of Defence was found dead in a mysterious manner. An inquiry concluded Kelly committed suicide.
The narrator: The full story of the weapons of mass destruction remains untold. But the weapons of mass deception unleashed by Bush and his team will continue to haunt them.