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George W. Bush: Still Not Telling the Truth About Iraq and WMDs

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Once again, George W. Bush is not telling the truth about Iraq.

He has, as you may have heard, a book coming out this week. It's not a full-fledged memoir. It's an examination of various decisions he has faced during his life. (Andover or Exeter?) But he ducks much. He avoids the deregulation and free-market policies of the Bush-Cheney years that helped cause the economic meltdown at the end of his presidency. He doesn't confront his decision to divert resources from the war in Afghanistan to Iraq. Nor does he cover the administration's cherry-picking of the intelligence regarding Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. He spends more time on his trouble with booze. ("Was alcohol becoming my god?")

But Bush is mounting a defense, as selective as it might be, of the Iraq war. He acknowledges that he experiences "a sickening feeling every time" he recalls the absence of WMDs in Iraq, but he contends that invading Iraq was the right move because "America is safer without a homicidal dictator pursuing WMD."

Yet that statement is flat-out wrong. Not the "safer" part, but the description of Saddam Hussein and WMDs. Bush is still trying to mislead the American public, for at the time of the invasion, Saddam, brutal dictator that he was, was not pursuing the development or production of WMDs. The Bush administration's own investigation found this. Following the invasion, there was a probe of Iraq's WMD activity conducted by Charles Duelfer, a hawkish fellow who had been handpicked by the administration to handle this sensitive job. In 2004, his Iraq Survey Group submitted its final report. The report noted that Saddam "aspired to develop a nuclear capability." But it was quite clear on the key point: Iraq had not been actively working on WMD projects. The Duelfer report concluded that Iraq's ability to produce nuclear weapons -- the most troubling W in the WMD category -- had "progressively decayed" since 1991 and that inspectors had found no signs of any "concerted efforts to restart the program." In plain talk: nada on nuclear. The same was true, the report said, for biological and chemical weapons. It found that by 1995, under U.N. pressure, Iraq had abandoned its biological weapons efforts and that there was no evidence Iraq had made any chemical weapons in the preceding 12 years.

The report was blunt:
The former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions. Neither was there an identifiable group of WMD policy makers or planners.
Nobody working on WMDs; no schemes to develop or obtain such weapons. The bottom line: Saddam was not pursuing weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. inspections of the 1990s and the international anti-Iraq sanctions had rendered Iraq's weapons programs kaput.

So once again, Bush is not being accurate -- or honest. To justify the war, the ex-president maintains he took out a dictator who was seeking the worst weapons imaginable. Did Bush not read the Duelfer report -- at the time of its release or in the six years since? Or does he not care about the real truth of his war? There's a question that ought to be put to him during the PR blitz for "Decision Points."

And allow me to pile on. In a push-the-book interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Bush claims that had he not invaded Iraq, Saddam "would still have the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction." Again, that's not so. See above. Per the Duelfer report, Saddam did not have such a capacity.

In that same interview, Bush, still on the subject of Iraq, declares, "I gave diplomacy every chance to work." This is another super-sized whopper. As Michael Isikoff and I revealed in our book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War," on May 1, 2002 -- almost a year prior to the invasion -- Bush angrily told press secretary Ari Fleischer, "I'm going to kick [Saddam's] sorry motherf****** ass all over the Mideast." (Our source, Adam Levine, a White House aide, was a witness to the encounter.) Those are not the words of a fellow committed to a diplomatic solution.

That anecdote aside, the facts contradict Bush's claim: At the time of the invasion, the U.N. weapons inspections program was under way and succeeding in Iraq. The inspectors were resolving key issues, such as whether aluminum tubes obtained by Iraq were for a project to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons (they were not). They also were finding no signs of WMDs. The inspectors were getting a difficult job done and, as we know now, deriving the right answers. Certainly, they were encountering problems. Saddam was not cooperating 100 percent. But the inspectors were navigating the roadblocks, and robust inspections were proceeding.

Occasionally you will hear some Bush defender say that Saddam tossed out the inspectors and that's why Bush had to invade. This is not so. The inspectors were yanked out of Iraq by the U.N. because of the pending invasion. That is, by invading Iraq, Bush ended the ongoing diplomatic process that was effectively dealing with the supposed Iraqi WMD threat. He did not give it "every chance to work."

Will Bush get away with these, uh, misrepresentations? He did so as president, and history may repeat itself this week.

You can follow David Corn's posts and media appearances via Twitter.

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There was never a question of WMD's - the UN resolution, and a US Congressional Resolution BEFORE Bush took office understood that a) Hussein had WMD's, but he refused to show the dismantled WMD's; b) Under Clintons watch the US Congress voted that SH cannot be left in power. Bill Clinton made law of H.R. 4655 on 10/31/1998. Look it up!

November 13 2010 at 10:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

In 1988 Saddam sent his man to buy nuclear triggers from an u/c agent in the US. This is documented in Time and Newsweek magazines, April 9, 1990. You don't buy triggers unless you have something to put them on. The evidence was there but the libs just won't print this for anyone wanting to look up the truth.

November 10 2010 at 10:06 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dc walker's comment

do you know what a trigger is?

January 22 2011 at 5:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

David, apparently you have an ax to grind here, since your own views and credibility hinge on President Bush being a liar. You neglect the possibility that WMD's were in fact in Iraq, but were hidden, moved or destroyed prior to the invasion, a possibility no one can disprove. You base your conclusions on one report written in 2004, but if that report is wrong, so are you and all the other Bush-bashers. Perhaps, having already stated your case, you should recuse yourself on this issue.

November 10 2010 at 12:08 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to trb2244's comment

I cannot disprove J Edgar Hoover did not wear dresses. Therefore J Edgar Hoover wore dresses. It was a possibility that WMD's were there. But after all this time with absolutely no evidence, not even vaguely obscure or marginally provable appearing I am quite sure they were not there. A lot of this is based on that unprovable incident in 1990 involving an alleged attempt to obtain a nuclear trigger. I cannot disprove the impossibility of that one either. I cannot disprove if it turned out to be an Iraqi agent attempting to buy a dress of J Edgar Hoover's for his boss Saddam who also supposedly wore dresses.

November 19 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lo colon

As some of the bloggers comments demonstrate, people have an incredible capacity to deny reality. The reality being that even Bush acknowledged that Saddam had no WMD's. I hope, Mr. Corn, that columnists such as you continue to expose Politicians and those that regretably are in power that have no cumpunction in lying a nation into war. There are too many gullible voters who blindly accept whatever dribble comes out of these politicians' mouths.

November 09 2010 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scott Ritter established via Saddam's generals the absense of WMDs. Did the FBI handler get in on tape? Let's hear it and then dismiss it, because no major Arab leader would be much of one if they didn't have plans to close the gap between their nation and the Zionist oppressor, subsidized with US taxpayer money.

November 09 2010 at 7:33 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

One more thing. The wiki-leaks document dump reported many finds of materials to produce mustard gas. Very much a WMD.

November 09 2010 at 11:52 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Why are you not talking about Saddam himself. Saddam admitted to his FBI handler that he was waiting for the sanctions to end then rebuild his WMD program. When you leave out that titbit of information your credability is questioned. Also even Saddam's generals believed in the WMD programs. Before the invasion the world believed that Saddam had WMDs.

November 09 2010 at 11:51 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

All these arguments about the run up to the war are extremely weak and (conveniently) completely absolve Democrats of any responsibility. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and many other Dems spoke out forcefully against Saddam's WMD's and WMD programs demanding he be disarmed. A large majority of Democrats voted for the invasion of Iraq. Yet now authors like Corn push the "Bush lied us into war" meme. If you believe that Bush lied us into the Iraq war then 1 of 2 things must be true about Democrats- 1) They too were complicit in lying us into the war with their demands (not to mention their votes) to disarm Saddam. Do a little research on the comments of Kerry, Clinton, and other Democrats and you will see they were crystal clear that Saddam had used WMD, was seeking WMD, and possessed WMD & must be disarmed. 2) They were tricked into voting to send our military into a war they didn't believe in. So, either Democrats were in on the (alleged) lies and the claims about Saddam's WMDs or they were victims of a great con perpetrated by Bush. Either they are complete fools who bought the stories about Iraqi weapons programs and didn't bother to check themselves or they went along with (and in fact encouraged) the program for war. In fact, there were so many sources (British and Israeli Intelligence services, the CIA, etc.) that said Saddam had WMD that Democrats knew we couldn't sit back and do nothing. Therefore they called for us to overthrow Saddam and voted to make it happen. If Democrats had not supported the invasion of Iraq it would never occurred. Bush needed their votes the their political support, and he got plenty of both. So, the next time authors like Corn and others make the claims that Bush lied us into war just remember, by default they are making the exact same claims about most Democrats including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

November 09 2010 at 11:22 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mikelausten's comment

Oh my-so either way it's the fault of the Democrats???

November 09 2010 at 5:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, Mr. Corn, and Obama is still not telling the truth about his birth certificate either.

November 08 2010 at 12:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lulunaplesfl's comment

A simple search on would have confirmed that Obama has been telling the truth all along and it was the Republicans who started a smear campaign in a lame and unethical attempt to sway the voters. In fact, here is a direct link to his birth certificate: Try doing your homework before perpetuating a lie.

November 08 2010 at 2:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Mr. Corn, until you have written the first article taking President Obama to task for the numerous lies he has told in the past three years you have zero credibility on this or any subject of substance. Try doing a little deep background on who wrote the stimulous plan or Obamacare. You might turn into a reporter.

November 08 2010 at 11:47 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to thirdherdnerd's comment

thirdherdnerd, you miss the point entirely. If indeed as you say, President Obama has lied, that in no way makes it OK for President Bush to have lied. Don't you understand, there is no reason for either of them to lie. Just tell us the truth and let us decide how we want to hold them accountable for their actions.

November 08 2010 at 3:26 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I will tell you who wrote the stimulus plan. BOTH Sides. McCain was involved, Pelosi, several of both parties. The plan was being developed before Obama was even running for President. A lot of it is based on scraps and notes of previous plans formulated by various committees through the Bush years. Much of it was based on the bailouts of the Bush years. Unfortunately much of the Bush years were based on Nixonian Economics and failed Carter AND Reaganomics. And are you really that naive to think in 2 short years someone can undo 4 to 8 years of Economic selfishness??

November 19 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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