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935 Iraq Falsehoods

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"The cumulative effect of these false statements -- amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts -- was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war. Some journalists -- indeed, even some entire news organizations -- have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq."

Here are some key false statements. For example: "On August 26, 2002, in an address to the national convention of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, Cheney flatly declared: 'Simply stated, 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.' In fact, former CIA Director George Tenet later recalled, Cheney's assertions went well beyond his agency's assessments at the time. Another CIA official, referring to the same speech, told journalist Ron Suskind, 'Our reaction was, "Where is he getting this stuff from?"'"

White House Response

Douglass K. Daniel writes for the Associated Press: "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."

Earlier Versions

The new findings are somewhat reminiscent of an earlier, less exhaustive database prepared at the direction of Henry Waxman in March 2004, when he was the ranking minority member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That was a searchable collection of 237 specific misleading statements made by Bush Administration officials about the threat posed by Iraq.

In August 2006, Mother Jones published "Lie by Lie," a sortable (if not searchable) timeline.

What About the Senate Intelligence Committee?

So what, you may well ask, ever happened to the Senate Intelligence Committee's promised inquiry into whether the White House intentionally deceived the public in the run-up to war? That, presumably, would provide an accountability moment of sorts.

You may recall that more than two years ago, in November 2005, Democrats were so upset about Republican foot-dragging on the inquiry that they brought the Senate to a halt with a rare closed session to demand that work resume.

The Republicans, not surprisingly, continued to stall anyway. But the Democrats have controlled the Senate for more than a year now. Where is the report?

Wendy Morigi, spokeswoman for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, told me this morning that it will be out before the end of spring.

Why the delay? Due to the "lack of comity on the committee" when Rockefeller took over the chairmanship, he decided that pushing ahead with the inquiry right away "would again create tension," Morigi said.

Nevertheless, the committee staff has "continued to work" on the report, she said. And a hearing on the matter will be held "within the next few months."


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