From Information Clearing House:
What We Said vs. What We did
By Philip Gallo
The controversy over the possible use of "intelligence" to mislead Congress and the public during the run-up to the war have largely revolved around "who knew what and when?" What documents? What did they contain? Who wrote them? Why? Who received them? Who read them? Who grasped (or didn't) their significance? It is a bucket of worms that may never be untangled.
But there are other facts bearing on what key players in the administration might have known, and when, that the public and the media seem to have forgotten. These are facts about the administration's actual behavior prior to the war, and the disparity between words and deeds.
On January 28, 2003, George Bush delivered the State of the Union address in which he claimed that Iraq possessed materials to produce 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agents. He claimed that the anthrax and botulinum stores could each kill millions of people and the others could kill thousands. He further claimed that Iraq still had nearly 30,000 prohibited munitions capable of delivering these agents beyond its borders.
Despite the dangers of going up against this fearsome arsenal, prominent neo-con Kenneth Adelman, writing in the Washington Post on February 13, made his now-famous remark that the war would be a "cakewalk."
The attack on Iraq began on March 19, 2003, about six weeks after Bush's State of the Union revelations. According to the online "Middle East Database," by February 15, 2003 American troop strength in Kuwait had already reached 150,000. So there was surely that number, or more, of coalition troops in Kuwait when our attack began on March 19.
The Bush Administration maintained, from the first tentative mention of using military force in Iraq up to almost the time of the March 19 attack, that war was the absolute last option and a negotiated settlement was earnestly sought. Troops were in the Middle East only to convince Iraq of our seriousness of purpose.
The Congressional Budget Office, in 2002, estimated that deploying a credible force to the Iraq area would cost between 7 and 13 billion dollars, and withdrawing them later would cost another 5 to 9 billion. Spending 12 to 22 billion dollars to convince an adversary of our seriousness of purpose would be the most expensive piece of sword-rattling diplomacy in history.
Is it believable that any government would spend that much money to deploy that many troops and armaments as a mere show of force, without a firm intent of using them?
It was "common knowledge" prior to the war that Saddam Hussein had at least a dozen Scud missiles, with a range of about 800 miles, left over from the first Gulf War. There was speculation that he might well have other missiles or unmanned aircraft with much greater range.
Yet it was reported that the headquarters of General Tommy Franks was an unfortified warehouse in Qatar at camp Al Saliya. In addition to key personnel, there were reputed to be millions upon millions of dollars of complex electronic equipment in the warehouse. The location of his Qatar headquarters was shown on numerous maps on television and in newspapers. It was surely within range of a Scud missile.
Given the known inaccuracy of our defensive anti-missile Patriot missiles (whose primary effectiveness in the first Gulf War was to shoot down our own aircraft), a chemical or biological attack via Iraq's Scud missiles could have been disastrous for our top leadership in Qatar.
The situation in Kuwait was even more perilous. A small country, sharing a border with Iraq, it was in danger of being hit with both short-range missiles and heavy artillery. A second command-and-control HQ had been set up just outside Kuwait City for the general who was second in command to Gen. Franks. This C&C headquarters, too, housed a fortune in sophisticated electronic devices, and was also reported to be an unfortified warehouse.
Between the HQ and the Iraq border there were at least 150,000 Coalition troops engaging in war exercises to keep them sharp. The media reported that many lacked full body-contamination suits, while others had old, defective suits or suits with rips and tears. Given the short distances involved, very few troops would have had more than a few minutes' warning, if any, to don their cumbersome contamination suits, assuming that they had a functioning suit to get into.
To underscore the peril that Coalition forces would have been in had there been such an enormous Iraqi arsenal of missiles and artillery shells armed with biological and chemical agents, on March 28 Fox News reported an explosion in Kuwait City that they believed had been caused by a Chinese-made Silkworm missile fired from Iraq. Although some argued that it was a Tomahawk missile gone astray, CNN later showed pieces of the wreckage indicating that it was almost certainly a Silkworm. The missile, which had a conventional explosive warhead, hit the edge of a shopping mall at night, causing light damage and no casualties.
Although it would appear that both the C&C Center and the large number of Coalition troops in Kuwait were within easy range of an Iraqi preemptive missile or artillery attack, American officials expressed little or no worry that Saddam might launch a pre-emptive attack with his gigantic arsenal of prohibited munitions packed with chemical or biological agents.
I don't remember much in the way of alarm voiced by op-ed writers either, with the exception of one article by William Buckley who seemed concerned by the possibility of a biological or chemical first strike by the Iraqis.
In fact, Adelman's statement that the war would be a cakewalk, and Rumfeld's and Cheney's assessments that the war would be over in 3 to 6 weeks do not sound like comments men would make who are sending a relatively small army to fight an enemy equipped with nearly 30,000 munitions capable of carrying payloads from a giant stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Any rational observer, watching where we put our vital C&C centers and where we deployed our troops, would have a hard time believing that there was any concern whatever about the adversary's ability to inflict damage of any serious kind with any type of weapon whatsoever.
Of course, when we invaded and occupied Iraq, we found no biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, few if any functioning missiles, and no artillery rounds filled with toxic agents, despite millions spent hunting for them.
Only two conclusions can be drawn from the facts laid out above. One is that the Bush Administration sincerely believed that Iraq possessed WMD and was prepared to risk losing our top generals and most of the Coalition troops to a deadly attack with outlawed weapons, either a pre-emptive attack before a Coalition invasion could begin, or a retaliative counterattack triggered by the invasion.
The second is that they knew perfectly well that there was nothing at all to fear.
The first option, sheer bravado in the face of deadly danger, seems to be ruled out by the Administration's extreme caution in waging the war in Afghanistan. Much of the fighting there was done by mercenary warlords and the Northern Alliance, precisely in order to reduce the number of American casualties. Besides, any president who lost 100,000 troops in a single day by putting them where they were vulnerable to surprise biological or chemical attack would be impeached, whichever party controlled Congress.
It seems inescapable that the officials in charge knew from the start that there were no WMD and no threat from Iraq. It is hard to believe that members of Congress studied intelligence reports diligently and truly believed Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Despite what they may have read or been told, didn't they see what the Administration was doing? Right in the midst of the search for bin Laden they moved troops and equipment to Kuwait. How could anyone watch the build-up growing in Kuwait in 2002 and early 2003 and not grasp that we were going to attack Iraq, come what may? How could anyone overlook that the administration was deploying in a manner that belied any threat from Saddam? Any member of Congress who believed there were WMD just wasn't paying attention, or worse.
These facts make clear that the administration lied about WMD, lied about their earnest intent to go to war only as the last possible option and only when it was demonstrably unavoidable, lied about every aspect of the Iraqi situation, did so from the start and at every available opportunity, and continues to do so to this day.
Philip Gallo, Ph.D.