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Challenging the Culture of Obedience | The Nation

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Challenging the Culture of Obedience

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Besides the fictions of Saddam Hussein somehow being linked to the 9/11 attacks and his supposed connection with Al Qaeda, what was the principal justification for forgoing additional weapons inspections, failing to work with our allies toward a solution, refraining from seeking additional resolutions from the United Nations, and hurrying to war - a so-called "pre-emptive" war--in which we would attack and occupy a Muslim nation that posed no security risk to the United States, and cause the deaths of many thousands of innocent men, women, and children--and the deaths and lifetime injuries to many thousands of our own servicemen and servicewomen?

About the Author

Ross C. Anderson
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson is founder and president of High Road for Human Rights.

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After eight years of misgovernment, Americans must join together to restore our democracy, the rule of law, and our nation's moral standing on history's high road.

The principal claim was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction--biological and chemical weapons--and was seeking to build up a nuclear weapons capability. As we now know, there was nothing--no evidence whatsoever--to support those claims. President Bush represented to us--and to people around the world--that one of the reasons we needed to make war in Iraq - and to do it right away--was because Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. His assertions about Saddam Hussein trying to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation and about Iraq seeking to obtain aluminum tubes for the enrichment of uranium were challenged at the time by our own intelligence agency and scientists, yet he didn't tell us that!

Ten days before the invasion of Iraq, it was proven that the documents upon which President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein trying to obtain uranium was based were forgeries. However, President Bush did not disclose that to the American people. By that failure, he betrayed each of us, he betrayed our country, and he betrayed the cause of world peace.

Neither did the vast majority of the news media disclose the forgeries--until it was far too late. It took our local newspapers here in Salt Lake City four months--until after President Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over--to report the discovery that the documents were forgeries--and, therefore, that there was no basis for the false claims about Saddam Hussein trying to build up a nuclear capability. By its failure to promptly disclose the forgeries, the news media betrayed us as well. Had the American people known we were being lied to--had President Bush informed us that the documents were forged and that he had no other basis for his claim--had our nation's media done its job, rather than slavishly repeating to us the lies being fed to it by the Bush Administration--our nation may well not have allowed the commencement of this outrageous, illegal, unjustified war.

To President Bush, to his Administration, to our go-along Congress, and to our news media, we are here today, demanding, "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"

Then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that high-strength aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," warning "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." Undisclosed by President Bush or Condoleezza Rice was the fact that top nuclear scientists had informed the Administration that the tubes were "too narrow, too heavy, too long" to be useful in developing nuclear weapons and could be used for other purposes. Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, agreed. So much for the phony claims of Saddam Hussein building nuclear weapons--the primary claims justifying the rush to war. What were we told about chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction? These claims were as baseless and fraudulent as the claims about nuclear weapons.

President Bush told us in his January 2003 State of the Union address that Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. Then, in May of 2003, he made the outlandish statement that, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told us, "We know where the [WMDs] are." Vice President Cheney and then-Secretary of State Powell also joined in the chorus of lies and misinformation about weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, no stockpiles of biological or chemical weapons were found. Bush Administration Weapons Inspector David Kay noted that Iraq did not have an ongoing chemical weapons program after 1991--a conclusion remarkably similar to statements made by Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice before the 9/11 attacks--and before they sacrificed the truth in the service of promoting the Bush Administration's case for war against Iraq.

On February 24, 2001, less than 7 months before 9/11, Colin Powell said that Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors," said Colin Powell.

And in July 2001, two months before 9/11, Condoleezza Rice said: "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

It is astounding how they changed their claims after the President decided to make a case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq! To think that we could be lied to by so many members of the Bush Administration with such impunity is frightening--chilling. Yet these imperious, arrogant, dishonest people think we should just fall in line with them and continue to take them at their word.

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