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Lying About Iraq

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book brings the question of who lied about Iraq to the front pages once again. Those on the left have claimed for years that the Bush administration lied about the threat from Iraq in the lead up to the war – often defining “lying” as omitting information that did not support the decision to invade from the case they made to the American people.   If those on the left describe emphasizing the threat posed by Iraq before the war as a lie, then what do they call their current depiction of the situation in Iraq, as well as their characterization of how the war began?

One of the most constant criticisms of the Bush administration regarding the war in Iraq has been that President Bush “lied us into war.”  When asked for the specific “lie” the answer is usually that Bush oversold the threat Saddam Hussein posed to the United States.  The “lie” is said to be that Bush and his administration emphasized only evidence that supported the decision to invade.

But those on the left have consistently ignored or downplayed the seriousness of the threat most intelligence told us Iraq posed before the war.  Even worse, they are now ignoring the progress, and in many cases downright successes, being seen in Iraq since the “surge.”

A lot of attention is being given to the new book by McClellan who calls the decision to invade Iraq a "serious strategic blunder."  The book was touted by many this week as proof that “Bush lied” about Iraq, but in an interview on the Today show Thursday he said something else.

.“I trusted the president's foreign policy team and I believed the president when he talked about the grave and gathering danger from Iraq…I believe he believed it was a grave danger, too.” McClellan believes Bush “convinced himself of that,” but there were some very real reasons to believe it – reasons that convinced not only Bush that Saddam posed a serious danger, but also many Democrats, including even John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.

When those on the left continue to claim there was no reason to go into Iraq and that the entire war was based on “Bush’s lies” they are lying to the American public. 

In just one recent example, Mark Eichenlaub (writing at National Review in March) noted newly released information from the Iraqi Perspectives Project (including 600,000 Iraqi documents) showing “that Saddam Hussein’s regime funded, trained, and assisted terrorist groups (including al-Qaeda proxies), and sometimes actually ordered them to attack American citizens, American interests, and American allies” and “was simultaneously using its intelligence and security apparatus to plot and conduct terror attacks of its own.”

Steve Schippert described the cherry-picking done by those in the American media who, instead of reporting the extent to which Saddam was involved in terrorist activity, chose to dismiss the relevance of the project’s findings by summarizing “a 94 page report down to a single, unrepresentative phrase.”

Eichenlaub wrote, “Because of Saddam’s removal, which came at considerable cost in American blood and gold, a ‘formal instrument’ of state terrorism is no longer secretly plotting to kill Americans. The American public deserves to know what a threat was removed for that price.”

Most have probably never seen or heard the actual content of the Iraqi Perspective Project report and this is only one example of information discovered since the invasion of Iraq that reinforces the belief by so many at the time that Saddam’s Iraq posed a real threat to American citizens.

It is important, especially this year when Americans are electing a new President, to look at all the information available in the months prior to the Iraq invasion, rather than looking only to the media’s often inaccurate Cliff’s Notes version. 

Not only have many opposed to the war mischaracterized or omitted information regarding the threat posed by Iraq prior to the war, they have spent the past year ignoring, and in some cases disparaging, the accomplishments the United States has achieved in Iraq – especially over the past year. When those on the left continue to describe the war in Iraq as an unmitigated failure, not only do they lie to the American people, but they dishonor the Americans who have served there and denigrate their achievements.

Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote: “The successful toppling of Saddam was followed in short order by the shutdown of Dr. Khan’s atomic shop, the surrender of WMDs by the Libyans, and the supposed sidetracking of the Iranian nuclear bomb program (at least according to the National Intelligence Estimate) — and yet no one thought the timing of all these events was odd (even when Ghaddafi himself reportedly connected his decision to abandon a weapons of mass destruction program to Saddam’s fate).”

Perhaps one of the most convincing reports of America’s success against al Qaeda comes from those in the terrorist organization themselves – a topic of discussion for several years now on Islamic terrorist web sites. reports the primary cause is believed to be “Moslems killed as a side effect of attacks on infidel troops, Iraqi security forces and non-Sunnis.” 

The same report goes on to describe how the surge appears to have achieved great success in the battle against al Qaeda in Iraq.  “When al Qaeda could not, in 2007, exercise any real control over the parts of Iraq they claimed as part of the new Islamic State, it was the last straw. The key supporters, battered by increasingly effective American and Iraqi attacks, dropped their support for al Qaeda, and the terrorist organization got stomped to bits by the ‘surge offensive’ of last year.”

For presidential candidates to say now, knowing what is known five years later, with 20/20 hindsight, what decision they would have made regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is irrelevant. Only what the candidate would have done knowing what was known then is any indication of what they might do in the future. The candidate who becomes president will not have a crystal ball and will have to make decisions knowing only the information available in the past and present. 

We can learn a lot from the past, but only when all the facts are studied.  That means not just those facts that make headlines in the American media, but also those facts that reflect positively on the Bush administration and the U.S. military.

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