US top officials made 935 false statements about Iraq – study


New York : US President George W Bush and his seven top officials made 935 false statements about Iraq in the two years following September 11, 2001, a study released Tuesday by two nonprofit journalism groups said.

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President Bush’s top officials included, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, it added.

“In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003,” reads an overview of the examination, conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and its affiliated group, the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

The study was based on a searchable database compiled of primary sources, such as official government transcripts and speeches, and secondary sources — mainly quotes from major media organizations.

The study says Bush made 232 false statements about Iraq and former Saddam Hussein’s possessing weapons of mass destruction, and 28 false statements about Iraq’s links to al-Qaeda.

Bush has consistently asserted that at the time he and other officials made the statements, the intelligence community of the US and several other nations, including Britain, believed Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the study added.

He has repeatedly said that despite the intelligence flaws, removing Hussein from power was the right thing to do.

The study said that Powell had the second-highest number of false statements, with 244 about weapons and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaeda.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Press Secretary Ari Fleischer each made 109 false statements.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz made 85, Rice made 56, Cheney made 48 and Scott McLellan, also a press secretary, made 14, the study noted.

“It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaeda,” the report read, citing multiple government reports.

The overview of the study also called the media to task, saying most media outlets didn’t do enough to investigate the claims.

“Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical,” the report said.

“These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, ‘independent’ validation of the Bush administration’s false statements about Iraq.” The quotes in the study included an August 26, 2002, statement by Cheney to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”