“In August, I think it was … [National Intelligence Director] Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was …“ (2007-12-04)x60 President Bush uttered that statement last week, claiming ignorance about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program for years.x61 But inside reports say that the White House saw a draft of the NIE with similar views a year ago, and that Vice President Cheney had held up its release.x62 During that year, Bush and Cheney had been drumming up fear of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, even to the point where Bush raised the specter of World War III.x63 So this gem goes into the Bush lie log, joining others such as these:
- “We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.“ (2003-03-08)x65 Bush spoke that to the nation two weeks before launching the invasion of Iraq, and after spending a half-year beating the war drum. The Bush regime planned for an Iraq invasion on its first week in office, and conjured up intelligence that was “being fixed around the policy.“x66x67 A month and a week before that statement, Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and told him that the start of bombing was “penciled in” for March 10th.x68
- “We gave him (Saddam Hussein) a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.“ (2003-07-14)x69 Actually, Hussein was complying with the UN resolution and weapons inspectors were making good progress, when Bush warned them to get out just before he launched the “shock and awe” attack.x70 In the years since, Bush has often repeated this false history.
- “If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.“ (2003-09-30)x71 Bush was playing dumb about the leak that blew the cover of covert CIA agent Valeri Plame. Actually, Bush had authorized such leaks in a vain try at smearing Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had publicly undermined one of Bush’s false bases for invading Iraq — that the country was developing nuclear weapons.x72 But one could say that part of Bush’s statement was true: one of the leakers, Cheney’s top aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, who was convicted of lying to FBI agents about the leak program, was “taken care of” when Bush commuted his jail time.x73
- “By the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.“ (2004-04-20)x74 At the time Bush spoke this, he had the National Security Agency (NSA) tapping into phone and internet communications at the data switches of AT&T and Verizon — all without a court order.x75x76
- “Both those men are doing fantastic jobs, and I strongly support them.“ (2006-11-1)x77 Bush said this about Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and went a step further, as the reporter wrote: “[Bush] replied in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Messrs. Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.” But Bush had already decided to oust Rumsfeld, and three days later did so. While this lie is not as weighty as the others, it is special in that Bush admitted he was lying. After ousting Rumsfeld, he told the same reporter: “The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer.“x78
Q Mr. President, thank you. I’d like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in ‘03 had already come to light to this administration. So can’t you be accused of hyping this threat? And don’t you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I don’t want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it’s not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it’s real, then what does it mean? And it wasn’t until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.
“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.
“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”
Bush had included the bogus Niger claim in his State of the Union Address in January 2003. But Wilson’s first-hand account of his assignment in 2002 to check out the Niger suspicions – and his conclusion that the evidence was weak – represented the first major assault on Bush’s pre-war intelligence from a mainstream government figure.
The White House struck back, organizing anti-Wilson leaks to friendly reporters. Privately, Bush declassified information that tended to bolster his Niger claim – even though by then its truthfulness had been discredited by U.S. intelligence agencies.
With President Bush’s clearance, Vice President Dick Cheney dispatched his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to leak information to Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward on June 27, 2003. Libby approached New York Times correspondent Judith Miller on July 8 and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 12.
74 ‘President Bush: Information Sharing, Patriot Act Vital to Homeland Security – Remarks by the President in a Conversation on the USA Patriot Act’ Kleinshans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, 2004-04-20
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