February 02, 2004

Stupid Conservative Myth #19

I'm going a little bit out of order compared to the original list, but this one is fast becoming a conservative mantra:

No one in the Bush administration ever characterized Saddam Hussein as an "imminent threat" before the war with Iraq.

What a sad joke. The Center for American Progress has the complete rundown on this myth, including a lengthy list of pre-war quotes, some of which I reproduce below:

"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons."-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02

"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency." -- President Bush, 10/2/02

"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists." -- President Bush, 10/7/02

"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02

"Well, of course he is.” -- White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett responding to the question “is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?”, 1/26/03

"Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country. His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa." -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 1/29/03

"This is about imminent threat." -- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03

So can we consider that myth dispatched, perhaps? Thanks for the pointers to Tom Tomorrow, who also recommends a fun Google search for the phrase "We know he has weapons of mass destruction." Another good link about this comes from The Daily Mislead.

Art Silber has more on this. Not only does he point to some choice "imminent threat" pre-war quotes, but he goes on to talk about the latest spin, which is that we went to war because of an intelligence failure. Sorry, no. We went to war because Bushco chose to go to war...

It is simply not true that the Bush administration's decision to go to war with Iraq was the result of "bad intelligence." In the most significant sense, that decision had nothing at all to do with the quality of the intelligence they were getting. The decision was one of policy -- a decision that depended "not upon available facts but upon judgment." As the Star-Tribune editorial points out, the Clinton administration had virtually the same intelligence -- yet came to a different conclusion altogether with regard to the proper course of action.

But this tactic serves an important purpose: it passes blame off to another party, and in effect lets the administration off the hook. The administration thus hopes to insulate itself from examination, criticism and accountability. It's as if the administration is saying: "The intelligence made us do it."

But the intelligence, whatever it was, didn't make them do anything. They had already decided what they wanted to do -- and the intelligence was almost irrelevant.

For more on the absolute stupidity of the "CIA made us do it" excuse, go see the latest from Atrios and Talking Points Memo. This kind of historical revisionism is something the so-called-liberal-media most definitely should not allow.

Posted by Observer at February 2, 2004 07:02 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

Leaving comments on for posts more than a week old seems to be more trouble than it is worth. All I ever get, it seems, is comment spam or ridiculous stuff made by someone who finds one of my old posts through Google and makes a comment without even knowing what I do or anything else about this blog or the context of the post. I wonder if there is an easy way in MT to
automatically turn off comments after N days...

Heh, the stupid 5-minute comment thing got *me*. Bah.

Posted by: Observer on February 2, 2004 03:05 PM

MT-Blacklist is now installed. Wow, that's a pretty spiffy little piece of software. Time will tell if it works. Now I have to decide if I want to just shut off comments on old posts to improve the signal-to-noise ratio even more (not there is much signal).

Posted by: Observer on February 2, 2004 09:14 PM

I think anyone who claims that the US administration is trying to dodge flack by claiming that "the intelligence made them do it" has a deeper agenda.

How is that any sort of defense? The press is trying to rip the administration a new one. They're not trying to excuse the war, and frankly I don't think they need to. Saddam was a threat. Now he's not. The Iraqi people have another chance. Yay for Bush.

Posted by: failsafeblood on February 4, 2004 03:07 AM

Huh? Are you saying no one in the administration is trying to pass the blame off to the CIA? Did you read any of David Kay's testimony? Have you seen any of the quotes by Bush, calling for an investigation of the intelligence gathering process, etc?

The press is most definitely *NOT* trying to rip the administration a new one. They are participating in the incredible blame deflection by reprinting standard administration spin on a regular basis, and I've been documenting that for nearly a year (others in my sidebar have been doing a better job, honestly).

Saddam was not a threat to us. We have now replaced him with an unknown and quite possibly created a new generation of terrorists with our occupation. The Iraqi people may not end up better off (especially if we cut and run without finishing the rebuilding process at the very least), so we don't even have that moral high ground to stand on.

Posted by: Observer on February 4, 2004 07:05 AM

Did you actually read that list of quotes?

Most of them have nothing to do with "imminent threat" and/or are taken out of context.

The one damning quote in the list was when McClellan said Iraq was "the most dangerous threat of our time." (Although, come to think of it, I did not research the context of that partial quote.)

It's 2006, so I'm actually messaging you from the future!

Posted by: Mister Joshua on October 4, 2006 11:37 PM

Wow. I mean, where do you start with a comment like that? Is it more sad than funny?

Do people seriously think that the entire Bush administration noise machine WASN'T trying to overplay how dangerous and immediate the threat of Saddam Hussein supposedly was to America?

Even if you are willing to make a fool of yourself and try to argue that, the natural follow-up is: Why exactly did we go to war, then?

I guess there has to be some reason Bush has a solid core of about 30% support no matter what he does. Some people are just living in a different reality. Unfortunately for America, they are in control of the real reality.

Posted by: Observer on October 5, 2006 11:29 PM