To build support for the invasion of Iraq that he wanted10, President Bush and his top advisors hyped the false ideas that Iraq was close to deploying nuclear weapons and was working with Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization blamed for attacking America on September 11, 2001 (9-11)x7x8. An opinion poll showed that by August 2002, six months after the invasion and into the occupation, two of every three Americans wrongly believed that Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, had a hand in that attack1. That belief was also likely held by American soldiers, as they rolled into Iraq in March 20034. While most Americans no longer believe in a Hussein – 9-11 link9, a recent opinion poll shows that most American soldiers in Iraq do3. In October 2005, Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), a long-time Marine, decorated Vietnam War veteran and ranking member on the defense appropriations sub-committee, concluded that continued occupation was harmful and proposed a complete pull-back of troops from Iraq to begin immediately6. At that time two Republican senators argued against his pull-back idea by saying that the soldiers wanted to stay (although the recent poll shows that most now favor an exit2). During a news conference, a reporter asked Murtha, “Senators Warner and Stevens just talked to reporters on the other side of the Capitol and they said they have yet to meet a single soldier in Iraq, or at the hospitals here, who thought it was time to pull out of Iraq –” Murtha responded, “Is that right? What do you think they’re going to tell you? We’re here to talk for them! We’re here to measure the success. The soldiers aren’t going to tell you that! I told you what the soldiers say. They’re proud of their service! They’re – they’re – they’re looking at their friends! [Pause] We are here – we have an obligation to speak for them5.”
Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.
Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.
The belief in the connection persists even though there has been no proof of a link between the two.
President Bush and members of his administration suggested a link between the two in the months before the war in Iraq. Claims of possible links have never been proven, however.
Veteran pollsters say the persistent belief of a link between the attacks and Saddam could help explain why public support for the decision to go to war in Iraq has been so resilient despite problems establishing a peaceful country.
2 ‘U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006′ – Zogby poll, Feb. 28, 2006 An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and more than one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.
3 ibid While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”
But the common thread from the bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003 through Abu Ghraib to Haditha is that Bush cavalierly sent young Americans into a complex and frightening conflict with false and alarmist rhetoric ringing in their ears.
Through clever juxtaposition, Bush’s speeches linked Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and later blurred the distinctions between Iraq’s home-grown insurgency and the relatively small number of al-Qaeda terrorists operating in Iraq.
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.
My plan calls: * To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. * To create a quick reaction force in the region. * To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines. * To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.
Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
In his October address, Bush claimed that the “evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group of his ‘nuclear mujahedeen,’ his nuclear holy warriors.” — As explained by the Washington Post, “Bush and others often alleged that President Hussein held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, but did not disclose that the known work of the scientists was largely benign.” (32)
In October 2002 Bush also stated, “[Iraq] is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon.” — Also in October 2002, the State Department’s Intelligence and Research Department told the White House that its WMD conclusions were inaccurate, reporting that “the activities we have detected do not . . .add up to a compelling case that Iraq is currently pursuing . . . an integrated and comprehensive approach to acquiring nuclear weapons.” This conclusion was reiterated to Secretary Powell before his presentation to the UN Security Council. (79)
On the Sunday before the war, Vice President Cheney claimed “we believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Cheney reiterated his contention that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. — In February 2001, the CIA warned the White House “we do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since [the first Gulf War] to reconstitute its Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs.” The report was so definitive that it led Colin Powell to state in a subsequent press conference that Iraq had “not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.” (91)
On November 7, 2002, President Bush said that Saddam Hussein” is a threat because he is dealing with Al Qaeda. . . . A true threat facing our country is that an Al Qaeda-type network trained and armed by Saddam could attack America and not leave one fingerprint.” “Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda” (2003 SOU) — The 9-11 Commission found “no credible evidence of a collaborative relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda.” The Commission stressed that “it had access to the same information [that Vice President Cheney] has seen regarding contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks.”
On July 24, 2003, Vice President Cheney cited Iraq’s “ties to terrorist groups” as a justification for the war. In his “victory” speech on the USS Lincoln, Bush proclaimed “We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda.” — A January 2004 report by the Army War College agreed and found “[t]he war against Iraq was a detour from, not an integral component of, the war on terrorism.” The war diverted valuable resources from the fight against Al Qaeda and homeland security. (72) The Carnegie Foundation study on Iraqi WMDs also found no evidence of a link. (70) The Joint Congressional Committee on September 11th Report concluded that there is no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Committee member Max Cleeland explained “[w]hat you’ve seen here is the manipulation of intelligence for political ends.” A UN terrorism committee also found no evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link other than Secretary Powell’s speech.
About 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to the online poll of 1,961 adults.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
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