Jon Schwarz
Feb. 18 2016
The Intercept

In the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina on Saturday night, Donald Trump said something about the Bush administration and the Iraq War that is essentially illegal for Republican politicians.

“They lied,” he said. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none.”

Trump has subsequently walked it back a bit, but he shouldn’t have. I’ve followed the issue of Iraq’s WMD programs for 20 years, and won a $1,000 bet in 2003 that if the U.S. invaded, we would find nothing. There’s no question that the Bush administration lied enthusiastically about what it knew about Iraq and WMD.

There is an enormous amount of powerful evidence to prove it:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney kicked off the push for war in August 2002 by claiming: “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.” Cheney’s speech had not been vetted by the CIA, and John McLaughlin, the CIA’s deputy director, shortly afterward told Congress that the likelihood of Iraq initiating a WMD attack “would be low.” Another CIA official later recalled that the agency’s reaction to Cheney’s speech was, “Where is he getting this stuff from?”

The Bush administration said that aluminum tubes Iraq had tried to import were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs” — even as Bush himself was being told the State Department and Energy Department believed (correctly, of course) they were intended to be used as conventional rockets.

Bush declared in his 2003 State of the Union address that “Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” even though his administration had been repeatedly warned this was dubious (and it turned out to originate with crudely forged documents).

Colin Powell doctored intercepted Iraqi communications for his U.N. presentation to make them appear more alarming.

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