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Key Events

Key events related to DSM (56)

General Topic Areas

Alleged al-Qaeda ties (83)
Politicization of intelligence (80)
Pre-9/11 plans for war (34)
Weapons inspections (122)
Alleged WMDs (99)
The decision to invade (104)
Internal opposition (29)
Motives (53)
Pre-war planning (30)
Predictions (19)
Legal justification (96)
Propaganda
Public opinion on Iraqi threat (13)
Diversion of Resources to Iraq (8)
Pre-war attacks against Iraq (18)

Specific Allegations

Aluminum tubes allegation (59)
Office of Special Plans (24)
Africa-uranium allegation (95)
Prague Connection (24)
Al Zarqawi allegation (10)
Poisons And Gases (5)
Drones (4)
Biological weapons trailers (18)

Specific cases and issues

Spying on the UN (8)
Outing of Jose Bustani (13)
Powells Speech to UN (13)
Chalabi and the INC (63)

Quotes from senior US officials

Chemical and biological weapons allegations (23)
Imminent threat allegations (5)
Iraq ties to terrorist allegations (15)
Nuclear weapons allegations (29)
WMD allegations (9)
Democracy rhetoric (33)
Decision to Invade quotes (16)
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Events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq: US/UK propaganda campaigns

 
  

Project: Inquiry into the decision to invade Iraq

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Mid-September 1990

       The Pentagon, citing top-secret satellite images, claims that some 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks are gathering on Saudi Arabia's border in preparation for an attack. But two commercial Soviet satellite images of the border area, taken at the same time, obtained by Florida's St. Petersburg Times, show only an empty desert. “The bulk of the mighty Iraqi army, said to number more than 500,000 in Kuwait and southern Iraq, couldn't be found,” Newsday reports. [St. Petersburg Times, 1/6/91; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]]
          

Late 1990

       An unconfirmed report of Iraqi soldiers entering a Kuwaiti hospital and removing newborns from their incubators is distributed widely. The rumor, which later turns out to be false, is seized upon by senior executives of the PR firm Hill and Knowlton, which has a $10 million contract from the Kuwaiti royal family to win support for a US-led intervention against Iraq. The PR firm, which has very close ties to the Bush administration, helps a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only as “Nayirah,” prepare to speak before a congressional caucus. In her testimony, she describes in detail how she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers storm the hospital where she was an intern and steal the incubators, leaving 312 babies “on the cold floor to die.” President Bush refers to the incident numerous times as he lobbies Congress to authorize the use of military force against Iraq. But it is later discovered that Nayirah is actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and that she was never an intern at the Kuwait hospital. The story was a complete fabrication. [Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [a]; Christian Science Monitor 9/6/02 [b]; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03]
People and organizations involved: George Herbert Walker Bush, Hill and Knowlton, US Congress
          

Shortly after September 11, 2001

       The Pentagon creates a secret office to coordinate military information operations aimed at improving the United States' image abroad. The office, named the Office of Strategic Influence, or OSI, is headed by Brigadier General Simon P. Wordon [New York Times, 2/19/02] , an astrophysicist with experience in space operations and missile defense. [Washington Post, 2/20/02] His assistant is Thomas A. Timmes. [New York Times, 2/19/02] OSI is a small, but well-funded operation and there are reportedly plans to provide it with an annual budget of as much as $100 million. [New York Times, 2/19/02; New York Times, 2/27/02; London Times, 2/20/02] Soon after the office is formed, a proposal is floated to produce and disseminate disinformation. The New York Times will report: “[T]he new office has begun circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations.... One of the office's proposals calls for planting news items with foreign media organizations through outside concerns that might not have obvious ties to the Pentagon.... General Worden envisions a broad mission ranging from ‘black’ campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to ‘white’ public affairs that rely on truthful news releases.... ‘It goes from the blackest of black programs to the whitest of white,’ a senior Pentagon official said.... Another proposal involves sending journalists, civic leaders and foreign leaders e-mail messages that promote American views or attack unfriendly governments.” [New York Times, 2/19/02] When OSI's classified proposals are leaked to the press (see February 19, 2002), White House officials say they are “furious” that the use of disinformation is being considered and then a few days later announce that the office has been shut down (see February 26, 2002). [Washington Post, 2/25/02]
People and organizations involved: Thomas A. Timmes, Simon P. Wordon, US Department of Defense, Office of Strategic Influence
          

October 3, 2001

       The Pentagon secretly awards the Rendon Group a $16.7 million contract to test public opinion and track and analyze foreign news reports in places like Cairo; Istanbul; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Jakarta, Indonesia. One of Rendon's main targets will be al-Jazeera. The contract specifies that Rendon will track “the location and use of Al Jazeera news bureaus, reporters and stringers, both regionally and globally. The ... effort will provide a detailed content analysis of the station's daily broadcast. TRG [The Rendon Group] will also chart event-related regional media coverage to identify the biases of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances.” Rendon will land many more contracts from the Pentagon over the next few years including ones that call on the firm to plant television news segments in the foreign media promoting US positions and to “push” stories favorable to the US. According to Rendon, in some cases the firm helps “foreign governments to correct things that are bad or wrong in the news cycle, and amplify those things that are not bad.” [Chicago Tribune , 11/13/2005 Sources: The Evolution of Strategic Influence]
People and organizations involved: Rendon Group, US Department of Defense
          

February 19, 2002

       The New York Times is the first to report that the Office of Strategic Influence, a secret Pentagon office established shortly after the September 11 attacks (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), is “developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries.” The article reports that many inside the government are opposed to these plans. “[S]everal senior officials have questioned whether its mission is too broad and possibly even illegal,” the Times says. “[T]hey are disturbed that a single office might be authorized to use not only covert operations like computer network attacks, psychological activities, and deception, but also the instruments and staff of the military's globe—spanning public affairs apparatus.” Critics are also concerned that “disinformation planted in foreign media organizations, like Reuters or Agence France-Presse, could end up being published or broadcast by American news organizations.” [New York Times, 2/19/02] The Washington Post similarly reports that discussions on the use of disinformation “have sparked widespread concern inside the Defense Department among officials who feel that the new office, by seeking to manipulate information and even knowingly dispense false information, could backfire and discredit official Pentagon statements.” [Washington Post, 2/25/02] News of the Defense Department's initiative causes an immediate public outcry and the Pentagon denies that it is considering plans to disseminate disinformation. “The Department of Defense, this secretary and the people that work with me tell the American people and the people of the world the truth,” Donald Rumsfeld insists. [Washington Post, 2/21/02] Jim Wilkinson, deputy White House communications director and head of the Coalition Information Center (CIC) war room, likewise states, “The president is a plain-spoken, truthful man and he expects that same high standard from every public affairs spokesperson in the government.” [Washington Post, 2/25/02] Rumsfeld, facing mounting criticism, closes the office a few days later (see February 26, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Office of Strategic Influence, Donald Rumsfeld, James R. Wilkinson
          

February 20, 2002

       Senior administration officials say the White House intends to create a permanent office of global diplomacy in order to spread a positive image of the United States around the world and combat anti-Americanism, which the administration believes has been caused by the world's failure to understand America. “A lot of the world does not like America, and it's going to take years to change their hearts and minds,” an unnamed senior official tells the New York Times. The office will coordinate the public statements of the State, Defense, and the other departments to ensure that foreign governments, media organizations, and opinion-makers understand US policies. The Times reports that according to one official, “global diplomacy as envisioned in the new office will inject patriotism into the punishing 24-hour, seven-day news cycle.” Reports broadcasted by the office would include information about both US foreign and domestic policies and would utilize the State Department's huge communications network of American embassies and media offices. The earlier White House effort to create a more positive image of the United States was handled by the Coalition Information Center, a joint effort between the US and UK that was led by the president's senior advisor, Karen P. Hughes. [New York Times, 2/02/02] The office will be formally created in July and given the name “The Office of Global Communications” (see July 30, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Office of Global Communications, Bush administration
          

February 26, 2002

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces the closure of the Office of Strategic Influence (see Shortly after September 11, 2001), after news of the Pentagon initiative causes a public stir (see February 19, 2002). “The office has clearly been so damaged that it is pretty clear to me that it could not function effectively,” he tells reporters. “So it is being closed down.” Asked if he instructed Rumsfeld to close the office, President Bush says, “I didn't even need to tell him this. He knows how I feel about this.” [New York Times, 2/27/02] Nine months later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says that after the OSI was closed, “I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.” [US Department of Defense, 11/18/02]
People and organizations involved: Office of Strategic Influence, Donald Rumsfeld, James R. Wilkinson
          

April 6-7, 2002

       British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a visit to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas [Independent, 2/27/05] , tells the president that the UK intends to “support military action to bring about regime change.” [Guardian, 5/2/05; Daily Telegraph, 5/4/05] But Blair also says that certain conditions will have to be met. He says that efforts will have to be made to “construct a coalition,” “shape public opinion,” and demonstrate that all options to “eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors” have been exhausted. Additionally, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis should be quiescent, he says. [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05] During a joint press conference with Bush on the first day of their summit at Crawford, Blair is asked by a reporter if Bush has convinced him “on the need for military action against Iraq” and whether or not regime change “is now the policy of the British government.” Blair does not respond with a direct answer to either of the questions. [Downing Street, 4/6/02; White House, 4/6/02]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Tony Blair
          

Summer 2002

       Reporter and author Ron Suskind meets with a unnamed senior adviser to Bush, who complains to Suskind about an article he recently wrote in Esquire magazine about Bush's communications director, Karen Hughes. In spite of his displeasure, the senior advisor says, boastfully: Guys like you are “in what we call the reality-based community”—people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” [The New York Times Magazine, 10/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Karen Hughes, Ron Suskind
          

June 26, 2002

       Entifadh Qunbar, a lobbyist for the Iraqi National Congress (INC), sends a memo to the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in which he provides information about a State Department-funded intelligence program, known as the “information-collection program,” run by the INC. Qunbar, who says he is the overall manager of the group, states in the memo that under the program, “defectors, reports and raw intelligence are cultivated and analyzed,” and “the results are reported through the INC newspaper (Al Mutamar), the Arabic and Western media and to appropriate governmental, nongovernmental and international agencies.” Information is also passed on to William Luti, who will later run the Office of Special Plans (see September 2002), and John Hannah, a senior national-security aide on Cheney's staff, who Qunbar describes as the “principal point of contact.” [Newsweek, 12/15/03; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo] The memo provides a description of some of the people involved in the group and their activities. It says that the analytical group includes five analysts with a background in Iraq's military, Iraq's intelligence services and human rights. One person, a consultant, monitors the Iraqi government's alleged efforts to develop banned weapons. The five analysts process information and write reports, which are sent to Al Mutamar, the INC's newspaper, as well as the US government and many mainstream news organizations. Qunbar says that the information-collection program issued 30 reports between August 2001 and June 2002, which were sent to Al Mutamar. According to the memo, the group published 28 private reports in collaboration with the INC's headquarters in London. The memo reveals that between October 2001 and May 2002, information provided by the INC was cited in 108 articles published by a variety of English-language news publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, the New Yorker, CNN, Fox News, and several others. [New Yorker, 6/7/2004; New York Times, 2/12/04 Sources: Memo]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Entifadh Qanbar, Memo, Iraqi National Congress
          

July 21, 2002

       The British Cabinet Office issues an eight-page briefing note to prepare officials for an upcoming meeting (see July 23, 2002) on Britain's role in the United States' confrontation with Iraq. The paper, titled “Conditions for Military Action,” addresses a number of issues including US invasion and post-war planning, legal justification for the use of military force, and what the US and British hope to achieve through “regime change.” [London Times, 5/2/05; Newsweek, 6/15/2005 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]
British support for use of military force against Iraq - The briefing summarizes the main points of Prime Minister Tony Blair's April meeting (see April 6-7, 2002) with President Bush, recalling that Blair pledged British support for “military action to bring about regime change” as long as “certain conditions” were met. Blair told Bush that the US and Britain would have to first develop a strategy to build a coalition and “shape public opinion.” Additionally, Britain would prefer that all “options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors [are] exhausted” and that the Israel-Palestine crisis be quiescent before going to war against Iraq. [Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US objectives in Iraq - The briefing paper reports that US military planners see the removal of Saddam Hussein as the primary objective, to be “followed by [the] elimination of Iraqi WMD [weapons of mass destruction].” The briefing notes that within the British government there are doubts that “regime change,” by itself, would be sufficient to gain control over any WMD present in Iraq. [Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

Creating conditions necessary for legal justification - Noting that “US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community,” the briefing paper makes it clear that the British government believes “[r]egime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law.” Because Blair told Bush in April that the British would support military action against Iraq, it will be necessary develop a realistic political strategy that would involve, among other things, working with the US to create “the conditions necessary to justify government military action.” It is suggested in the briefing note that an Iraqi refusal to cooperate with weapons inspections could help create such conditions. Saddam Hussein would “likely” agree to admit inspectors and allow them to operate freely during the first six months of inspections when UNMOVIC is in the process of establishing a monitoring and verification system. After this point, the briefing notes, Hussein would probably begin limiting cooperating with inspectors. This would likely not occur until January 2003. Another alternative—one that would provide a legal basis for “regime change” much sooner—is that “an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject ... and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Daily Telegraph, 5/4/05; Guardian, 5/2/05; London Times, 5/2/05 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US invasion plan - According to the briefing paper, US military planners seem to favor an invasion plan that would provide a “running start” to the ground invasion. It would consist of “[a]ir strikes and support for opposition groups in Iraq [that] would lead initially to small-scale land operations.” It would likely begin around November 2002 “with no overt military build-up,” followed by the ground invasion that could commence as early as January 2003. The other option under consideration is the “generated start” plan, which would involve a longer build-up. [London Times, 5/2/05 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

US post-war plan - The briefing paper notes that US “military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace” —but with “little thought” to issues such as “the aftermath and how to shape it.” It predicts that a “post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise.” The Pentagon's plans “are virtually silent on this point,” the document notes, warning of the possibility that “Washington could look to [the British] to share a disproportionate share of the burden.” [Washington Post, 6/12/2005 Sources: Downing Street Briefing, 7/19/2002]

People and organizations involved: Tony Blair, George W. Bush
          

July 23, 2002

       Top British officials attend a meeting to discuss the UK's potential role in the Bush administration's confrontation with Iraq. According to the minutes of the meeting, transcribed by Matthew Rycroft, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British intelligence service, MI6, says that during his last visit to Washington he noticed a “perceptible shift in attitude. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy.” Furthermore, he states, Bush's National Security Council indicated it “had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record.” He also noted that there “was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” [Salon (op-ed), 5/6/05; Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05 Sources: Downing Street Memo, 7/23/2002] Foreign Minister Jack Straw appears to agree with Dearlove's assessment, saying that it seems clear that President Bush has already decided on using military force to depose Saddam Hussein. But Straw notes that the Bush administration's case against Saddam was “thin.” The Iraqi leader “was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea, or Iran,” the minutes say, summarizing his remarks. [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Guardian, 5/2/05] There is no indication in the minutes that anyone present at the meeting disputed Dearlove's or Straw's observations. [Sources: Downing Street Memo, 7/23/2002] Furthermore, the account provided by the intelligence official and Straw are corroborated by a former senior US official who is later interviewed by Knight Ridder. It is “an absolutely accurate description of what transpired,” the official will say. [Knight Ridder, 5/2/05] Straw proposes that the next step would be to “work up an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors,” which “would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05; Guardian, 5/2/05] Britain's attorney general, Lord Peter Goldsmith, warns that “the desire for regime change [is] not a legal base for military action,” the minutes say. But Blair says that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/12/05] Finally, the officials agree that the British government “should continue to work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action” but “not ignore the legal issues.” [Guardian, 5/2/05] The minutes do not provide any indication that officials discussed how war might be avoided. [Salon, 6/10/2005] The minutes of this meetings will be revealed by the British Sunday Times three years later (see May 1, 2005). Commonly referred to as the “Downing Street Memo,” the minutes will re-spark the controversy over politicized intelligence.
People and organizations involved: Michael Boyce, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, Alastair Campbell, Peter Goldsmith, Richard Dearlove, Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw, Tony Blair  Additional Info 
          

July 30, 2002

       The White House formally announces plans to create a public diplomacy agency, to be called the Office of Global Communications, that will be charged with projecting a more positive image of the US abroad. [Guardian, 7/31/02; Washington Post, 7/30/02; CBS News, 7/30/02; Los Angeles Times, 1/5/03] It will help the world understand “what America is all about and why America does what it does,” says White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The task formerly belonged to the State Department, but Bush's advisors didn't think it was “doing a good enough job, so they're going to take it on,” a former Coalition Information Center (CIC) official tells the Guardian. “Nobody [was] that impressed with Charlotte Beers [of the State Department] and what she's done. She listens to people. She's done a lot of listening, but you need to go further than that.” [Guardian, 7/31/02] This new public diplomacy office, said to the brainchild of Bush's senior advisor, Karen Hughes, has actually “existed for months, quietly working with foreign news media outlets to get the American message out about the war on terrorism,” according to CBS News. [CBS News, 7/30/02]
People and organizations involved: George Herbert Walker Bush, Hill and Knowlton
          

July 30, 2002

       The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) publishes a report, entitled, “Public Diplomacy: A Strategy for Reform,” concluding that, “There is little doubt that stereotypes of the United States as arrogant, self-indulgent, hypocritical, inattentive, and unwilling or unable to engage in cross-cultural dialogue are pervasive and deeply rooted.” As a solution, the report recommends developing “a coherent strategic and coordinating framework, including a presidential directive on public diplomacy and a Public Diplomacy Coordinating Structure led by the president's personal designee.” The short term public diplomacy objective would be to “influence opinions and mobilize publics in ways that support specific US interests and policies.” However, the long term goal would be to promote “dialogue in ways that are politically, culturally, and socially,” the report says. [Miami Herald, 8/13/02; Guardian, 7/31/02 Sources: Public Diplomacy: A Strategy for Reform]
People and organizations involved: Council on Foreign Relations
          

August 2002

       White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. forms the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG, which aims to “educate the public” about the alleged threat from Iraq. A senior official involved with the group later describes it as “an internal working group, like many formed for priority issues, to make sure each part of the White House was fulfilling its responsibilities.” Members of the group include Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio, and policy advisers led by Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, and I. Lewis Libby. They meet weekly in the White House Situation Room. A “strategic communications” task force under the WHIG is charged with planning speeches and writing white papers. [Washington Post, 8/10/2003] According to an intelligence source interviewed by the New York Daily News in October 2005, the group, on “a number of occasions,” will attempt “to push the envelope on things,”—“The [CIA] would say, ‘We just don't have the intelligence to substantiate that.’” [New York Daily News, 10/19/2005] An important part of the WHIG strategy is to feed their messages to friendly reporters such as New York Times reporter Judith Miller. James Bamford, in his book A Pretext for War, writes: “First OSP [Office of Special Plans] supplies false or exaggerated intelligence; then members of the WHIG leak it to friendly reporters, complete with prepackaged vivid imagery; finally, when the story breaks, senior officials point to it as proof and parrot the unnamed quotes they or their colleagues previously supplied.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 325]
People and organizations involved: Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, White House Iraq Group, Stephen Hadley, Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, Mel Sembler
          

September 6, 2002

       White House officials, in interviews with the New York Times, describe the administration's strategy to convince the public, Congress, and US allies of the need to confront Iraq. They say the centerpiece of the strategy will be Bush's September 11 speech at Ellis Island in New York Harbor which they have been planning since at least June (The speech will not actually make a case for confronting Iraq. Bush first will first make his case to the nation in his October 7 speech (see February 20, 2001)). Explaining why the White House did not launch this effort in August when the administration's plans came under intense criticism from a number of different quarters, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. tells the New York Times, “From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.” Card is the founding member of the White House Iraq Group (see August 2002), which was formed to “educate the public” on the alleged threat from Iraq. The officials also tell the Times that one of the administration's goals is for Congress to pass a resolution approving the use of force in Iraq within the next four to five weeks. “In the end it will be difficult for someone to vote against it,” one administration official tells the Times. [New York Times, 9/7/2002]
People and organizations involved: Andrew Card
          

9:00 a.m. September 8, 2002

       Vice President Dick Cheney is interviewed on NBC's “Meet the Press” to discuss the Bush administration's position on Iraq and the alleged threat Iraq poses to the world. “[B]ased on intelligence that's becoming available—some of it has been made public [referring to the recent New York Times story (see (1:00am) September 8, 2002)]— ... he has indeed stepped up his capacity to produce and deliver biological weapons, ... he has reconstituted his nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, ... there are efforts under way inside Iraq to significantly expand his capability. ... [H]e now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs. ... There's a story in The New York Times this morning ... [I]t's now public that, in fact, he has been seeking to acquire, and we have been able to intercept and prevent him from acquiring through this particular channel, the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. And the centrifuge is required to take low-grade uranium and enhance it into highly enriched uranium, which is what you have to have in order to build a bomb. This is a technology he was working on back, say, before the Gulf War. And one of the reasons it's of concern, ... is ... [that] we know about a particular shipment. We've intercepted that. We don't know what else—what other avenues he may be taking out there, what he may have already acquired. We do know he's had four years without any inspections at all in Iraq to develop that capability. ... [W]e do know, with absolute certainty, that he [Saddam Hussein] is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment [aluminum tubes] he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.” Cheney says the US intends to work with the international community, but hints that the US is willing to confront Saddam without international support. “We are trying very hard not be unilateralist,” he says. “We are working to build support with the American people, with the Congress, as many have suggested we should. And we are also as many of us suggested we should, going to the United Nations, and the president will address this issue. ... We would like to do it with the sanction of the international community. But the point in Iraq is this problem has to be dealt with one way or the other.” [New York Times, 10/3/2004; Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/27/2003; Washington File, 9/9/2002; Washington Post, 2/7/2003; NBC News Meet the Press, 9/8/2002]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, White House Iraq Group
          

9:00 a.m. September 8, 2002

       Secretary of State Colin Powell appears on “Fox News Sunday,” and asserts that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons stocks and that Saddam Hussein is intent on building a nuclear weapon. He cites a recent article in the New York Times by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon (see (1:00am) September 8, 2002) as evidence of Hussein's nuclear ambitions. “There's no doubt that he has chemical weapon stocks. We destroyed some after the Gulf War with the inspection regime, but there's no doubt in our mind that he still has chemical weapon stocks and he has the capacity to produce more chemical weapons. With respect to biological weapons, we are confident that he has some stocks of those weapons, and he's probably continuing to try to develop more. And biological weapons are very dangerous because they can be produced just about in any kind of pharmaceutical facility. With respect to nuclear weapons, we are quite confident that he continues to try to pursue the technology that would allow him to develop a nuclear weapon. Whether he could do it in one, five, six or seven, eight years is something that people can debate about, but what nobody can debate about is the fact that he still has the incentive, he still intends to develop those kinds of weapons. And as we saw in reporting just this morning, he is still trying to acquire, for example, some of the specialized aluminum tubing one needs to develop centrifuges that would give you an enrichment capability. So there's no question that he has these weapons, but even more importantly, he is striving to do even more, to get even more.” Tony Snow, the program's host, asks Secretary of State Colin Powell to respond to comments by former UN Chief Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in a speech he recently made to Iraq's parliament, in which the former weapons inspector stated: “The rhetoric of fear that is disseminated by my government and others has not to date been backed up by hard facts that substantiate any allegations that Iraq is today in possession of weapons of mass destruction or has links to terror groups responsible for attacking the United States. Void of such facts, all we have is speculation.” Powell responds: “We have facts, not speculation. Scott is certainly entitled to his opinion but I'm afraid that I would not place the security of my nation and the security of our friends in the region on that kind of an assertion by somebody who's not in the intelligence chain any longer... If Scott is right, then why are they keeping the inspectors out? If Scott is right, why don't they say, ‘Anytime, any place, anywhere, bring'em in, everybody come in—we are clean?’ The reason is they are not clean. And we have to find out what they have and what we're going to do about it. And that's why it's been the policy of this government to insist that Iraq be disarmed in accordance with the terms of the relevant UN resolutions.” [Associated Press, 9/8/2002; Newsmax, 9/8/2002; Fox News, 9/8/2002]
People and organizations involved: White House Iraq Group, Colin Powell
          

10:30 a.m. September 8, 2002

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appears on CBS' “Face the Nation” and talks about Iraq. He tells host Bob Schieffer, “[President Bush] has decided to go to the Congress and to the United Nations later this week and make the case of what Iraq has done for 11 years. It has invaded its neighbors; it's violated almost every single UN resolution that relates to Iraq. And against the agreement they had to disarm, they proceeded to develop weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological and nuclear.” When asked if the government has “smoking gun” evidence that Iraq is developing nuclear weapons, Rumsfeld responds: “The smoking gun is an interesting phrase. It implies that what we're doing here is law enforcement, that what we're looking for is a case that we can take into a court of law and prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The problem with that is, the way one gains absolutely certainty as to whether a dictator like Saddam Hussein has a nuclear weapon is if he uses it, and that's a little late. It's not late if you're interested in protecting rights of the defendant in a court of law, but it's a quite different thing if one thinks about it.” Schieffer then asks the defense secretary whether or not the administration has information that has not yet been shared with the public. Rumsfeld says: “The problem we have, of course, is a real one. Intelligence, we spend billions of dollars gathering intelligence. And to do it, you have to have methods of doing it and sources from whom you get this information. And to the extent you take that intelligence and spread it out in the public record, what you do is you put people's lives at risk, the sources of that information, because people can connect the dots there and say, well, who knew that, and then they go out and they stop people from helping us learn that type of information, or if it's a source, a satellite or some other thing. To the extent that we reveal the information and show our capability, we then lose that capability because they find ways to deceive and deny us from gaining access to it. So there's a very good reason for not taking all the information.” [CBS Face the Nation, 9/8/2002]
People and organizations involved: White House Iraq Group, Donald Rumsfeld
          

(12:00 p.m.) September 8, 2002

       Condoleezza Rice appears on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer to discuss the alleged threat posed to the US by Saddam Hussein. She insists that Iraq is intent on developing a nuclear weapon. “We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iran, for instance—into Iraq, for instance, of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to—high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device. The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't what the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” [New York Times, 7/20/03; Iraq on the Record database, 3/16/04; CNN Late Night with Wolf Blitzer, 9/8/02]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, White House Iraq Group
          

October 2002

       The State Department's propaganda office, closed in 1996, is reopened. Called the Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team, this office supposedly only aims its propaganda overseas to counter propaganda from other countries. [Associated Press, 3/10/03]
People and organizations involved: Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team, US Department of State
          

December 16, 2002

       The New York Times reports that the Defense Department “is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries” in order to stem the tide of anti-Americanism. The Pentagon has considered several tactics it may employ to improve America's image abroad. For example, the Times explains that the Pentagon “might pay journalists to write stories favorable to American policies,” or hire “outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of American policies.” Another idea would be to set “up schools with secret American financing to teach a moderate Islamic position laced with sympathetic depictions of how the religion is practiced in America.” Several official sources interviewed by the Times opposed the plans. One military officer tells the newspaper: “We have the assets and the capabilities and the training to go into friendly and neutral nations to influence public opinion. We could do it and get away with it. That doesn't mean we should.” Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair, a former commander of American forces in the Pacific, says that it probably wouldn't be very effective. “Running ops against your allies doesn't work very well.... I've seen it tried a few times, and it generally is not very effective,” he says. [New York Times, 12/16/02 Sources: Unnamed senior Pentagon and administration officials] The White House defends the program. “The president has the expectation that any program that is created in his administration will be based on facts, and that's what he would expect to be carried out in any program that is created in any entity of the government,” White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says. [New York Times, 12/16/02]
People and organizations involved: Ari Fleischer, Dennis C. Blair
          

January 21, 2003

       President George Bush signs an executive order formally creating the Office of Global Communications (see July 30, 2002) to coordinate efforts among various federal agencies to “disseminate truthful, accurate, and effective messages about the American people and their government” to audiences around the world. [New York Times, 1/22/03; White House, 1/21/03] The office has actually been in existence since before July 2002 (see July 30, 2002). Its first publication is also released on this day. Titled, “Apparatus of Lies,” the 32-page white paper argues that Iraq is using a carefully calibrated system of propaganda and disinformation to gain international support for the regime and to hide development of its weapons of mass destruction programs. In its executive summary, it states that Iraq's foreign relations consist primarily of “a highly developed, well disciplined, and expertly organized program designed to win support for the Iraqi regime through outright deceit.” It goes on to say that the “elaborate program is one of the regime's most potent weapons for advancing its political, military, and diplomatic objectives. In their disinformation and propaganda campaigns, the Iraqis use elaborate ruses and obvious falsehoods, covert actions and false on-the-record statements, and sophisticated preparation and spontaneous exploitation of opportunities. Many of the techniques are not new, but this regime exploits them more aggressively and effectively—and to more harmful effect—than any other regime in power today.” [Sources: Apparatus of Lies]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Office of Global Communications
          


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