Table of Contents
Legal Standards and Authorities
Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra are widely considered to be constitutional crises. They were in the sense that the executive branch was acting in violation of the law and in tension with the Majority Party in the Congress. But the system of checks and balances put in place by the founding fathers worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken – even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.
The situation we find ourselves in today under the administration of George W. Bush is systemically different. The alleged acts of wrongdoing my staff has documented– which include making misleading statements about the decision to go to war; manipulating intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using classified information to out a CIA agent; and violating federal surveillance and privacy laws – are quite serious. However, the current Majority Party has shown little inclination to engage in basic oversight, let alone question the Administration directly. The media, though showing some signs of aggressiveness as of late, is increasingly concentrated and all too often unwilling to risk the enmity or legal challenge from the party in charge. At the same time, unlike previous threats to civil liberties posed by the Civil War (suspension of habeas corpus and eviction of the Jews from portions of the Southern States); World War I (anti-immigrant “Palmer Raids”); World War II (internment of Japanese Americans); and the Vietnam War (COINTELPRO); the risks to our citizens’ rights today are potentially more grave, as the war on terror has no specific end point.
Although on occasion the courts are able to serve as a partial check on the unilateral overreaching of the Executive Branch – as they did in the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision invalidating the President’s military tribunal rules – the unfortunate reality remains that we are a long way from being out of the constitutional woods under the dangerous combination of an imperial Bush presidency and a compliant GOP Congress. I say this for several reasons. The Hamdan decision itself was approved by only five Justices (three Justices dissented, and Chief Justice Roberts recused himself because he had previously ruled in favor of the Administration) and was written by 86-year old Justice Stevens. In the event of his retirement in the next two years, the Court’s balance would likely be tipped back as he would undoubtedly be replaced by another Justice in the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts-Alito mode favoring an all-powerful “unitary” executive. In the very first hearing held on the decision, the Administration witness testified that “the president is always right” and severely chastised the Court’s decision. The Republican Majority also appears poised to use the decision to score political points rather than reassert Congressional prerogatives, as House Majority Leader Boehner disingenuously declared the case “offers a clear choice between Capitol Hill Democrats who celebrate offering special privileges to violent terrorists, and Republicans who want the President to have the necessary tools to prosecute and achieve victory in the Global War on Terror.”
Thus, notwithstanding the eloquence of the Hamdan decision, I believe our Constitution remains in crisis. We cannot count on a single judicial decision to reclaim the rule of law or resurrect the system of checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers. Rather, we need to restore a vigilant Congress, an independent judiciary, a law-abiding president, and a vigorous free press that has served our Nation so well throughout our history.
Because of the above concerns, I asked my Judiciary Committee staff to prepare the following Report. I made this request in the wake of President Bush’s failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of 2005 asking him whether the assertions set forth in the so-called “Downing Street Minutes” were accurate, and in the aftermath of the disclosure by The New York Times in December 2005 and USA Today in May 2006 that the President had approved widespread warrantless domestic surveillance of innocent Americans. I asked for this Report to be prepared because I believe it is vital that we document these allegations, learn from our mistakes, and consider laws and safeguards necessary to prevent their recurrence.
I believe it is essential that we come together as a Nation to confront religious extremism and despicable regimes abroad as well as terrorist tactics at home. However, as a veteran, I recognize that we do no service to our brave armed forces by asking them to engage in military conflict under false pretenses and without adequate resources. Nor do we advance the cause of fighting terrorism if our government takes constitutionally dubious short cuts of little law enforcement value that alienate the very groups in this country whose cooperation is central to fighting this seminal battle.
Many of us remember a time when the powers
of our government were horribly abused.
Those of us who lived through
It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation because “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” and that millions of innocent Americans have been subject to government surveillance outside of proper legal process. However, it is unforgivable that Congress has been unwilling to examine these matters or take actions to prevent these circumstances from occurring again. Since the Majority Party is unwilling to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government. It is with that purpose and in that spirit that I am releasing this Minority Report.
I would like to thank the “blogosphere” for its myriad and invaluable contributions to my and my staff. Absent the assistance of “blogs” and other Internet-based media, it would have been impossible to assemble all of the information, sources and other materials necessary to the preparation of this Report. Whereas the so-called “mainstream media” has frequently been willing to look past the abuses of the Bush Administration, the blogosophere has proven to be a new and important bulwark of our Nation’s first amendment freedoms.
This Minority Report has been produced at the direction of Representative John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. The Report is divided into two principal parts – Part I, released in draft form in December, 2005, concerns “The Downing Street Minutes and Deception Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War;” and Part II, released in June 2006, concerns “Unlawful Domestic Surveillance and Related Civil Liberties Abuses under the Administration of George W. Bush.” (At the conclusion, we include an Addendum including additional matters which have come to light since Part I of the Report was issued in December, 2005 and Part II was written in May, 2006).
In preparing this Report we reviewed tens of thousands of documents and materials, including testimony submitted at two hearings held by Rep. Conyers concerning the Downing Street Minutes and warrantless domestic surveillance; hundreds of media reports, articles, and books, including interviews with past and present Administration employees and other confidential sources; scores of government and non-profit reports, hearings, and analyses; numerous letters and materials submitted to Rep. Conyers; staff interviews; relevant laws, cases, regulations, and administrative guidelines; and the Administration’s own words and statements.
In brief, we have found that there is substantial evidence the President, the Vice-President and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American people regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq; misstated and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Iraq; permitted inappropriate retaliation against critics of their Administration; and approved domestic surveillance that is both illegal and unconstitutional. As further detailed in the Report, there is evidence that these actions violate a number of federal laws, including:
False Statements to Congress, for example, saying you have learned
· The War Powers Resolution and Misuse of Government Funds, for example, redeploying troops and initiating bombing raids before receiving congressional authorization.
· Federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, for example, ordering detainees to be ghosted and removed, and tolerating and laying the legal ground work for their torture and mistreatment.
· Federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals, for example, demoting Bunnatine Greenhouse, the chief contracting officer at the Army Corps of Engineers, because she exposed contracting abuses involving Halliburton.
· Federal requirements concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence, for example, failing to enforce the executive order requiring disciplining those who leak classified information, whether intentional or not.
· Federal regulations and ethical requirements governing conflicts of interest, for example, then Attorney General John Aschcroft’s being personally briefed on FBI interviews concerning possible misconduct by Karl Rove even though Mr. Rove had previously received nearly $750,000 in fees for political work on Mr. Ashcroft’s campaigns.
Violating FISA and the Fourth Amendment, for
example intercepting thousands of communications “to or from any person within
Stored Communications Act of 1986 and the Communications Act of 1934, for
example, obtaining millions of
· The National Security Act, for example, failing to keep all Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees “fully and currently informed” of intelligence activities, such as the warrantless surveillance programs.
With regard to the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs, we have also found that members of the Bush Administration made a number of misleading statements regarding its operation and scope; the legal justifications proffered by the Bush Administration are constitutionally destabilizing; there is little evidence the programs have been beneficial in combating terrorism and may have affirmatively placed terrorism prosecutions at risk; and the programs appear to have designed and implemented in a manner designed to stifle legitimate concerns.
The Report rejects the frequent contention
by the Bush Administration that their pre-war conduct has been reviewed and they
have been exonerated. No entity has
ever considered whether the Administration misled Americans about the decision
to go to war. The Senate Intelligence Committee has not yet conducted a review
of pre-war intelligence distortion and manipulation, while the presidentially
appointed Silberman-Robb Commission Report specifically cautioned that
intelligence manipulation “was not part of our inquiry.” There has also not been any independent
inquiry concerning torture and other legal violations in
There also has been no independent review of the circumstances surrounding the Bush Administration’s domestic spying scandals. The Administration summarily rejected all requests for special counsels, as well as reviews by the Department of Justice and Department of Defense Inspector Generals. When the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility opened an investigation, the Bush Administration effectively squashed it by denying the investigators security clearances. Neither the House nor Senate Intelligence Committee have undertaken any sort of comprehensive investigation, and the Bush Administration has sought to cut off any court review of the NSA programs by repeatedly invoking the state secrets doctrine.
As a result of our findings, we have made a number of recommendations to help prevent the recurrence of these events in the future, including:
· obtaining enhanced investigatory authority to access documentary information and testimony regarding the various allegations set forth in this Report.
· reaffirming that FISA and the criminal code contain the exclusive means for conducting domestic warrantless surveillance and, to the extent that more personnel are needed to process FISA requests, increasing available resources.
· requiring the President to report on the pardon of any former or current officials who could implicate the President or other Administration officials implicated by pending investigations.
· requiring the President to notify Congress upon the declassification of intelligence information.
· providing for enhanced protection for national security whistle-blowers.
· strengthening the authority of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
We also make a number of additional recommendations within the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee to help respond to the ongoing threat of terrorism, including:
· increasing funding and resources for local law enforcement and first responders and insuring that anti-terrorism funds are distributed based on risk, not politics.
· implementing the 9-11 Commission Recommendations, including providing for enhanced port, infrastructure, and chemical plant security and ensuring that all loose nuclear materials are secured.
· banning corporate trade with state sponsors of terrorism and eliminating sovereign immunity protections for state sponsors of terrorism.
· enhancing laws against wartime fraud.
ABut I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.@
-----May 30, 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney=s Remarks on the Iraqi insurgency, Larry King Live
The 2000 Presidential election focused on
many issues relating to domestic and foreign policy. However, the topic of
In the aftermath of the September 11
attacks, the Bush Administration began to hint at the coming attack on
At the same time, the President=s public statements indicated a reluctance
to use military force in
Shortly thereafter, the Administration began
making more alarming and sensational claims about the danger posed to the United
States by Iraq including in a September 12, 2002 address to the United Nations,
and began to press forward publicly with preparations for war. In the days following the
President=s speech to the United Nations,
As the Congressional vote to authorize force
The President=s focus then moved on to the United Nations
in an effort to persuade the UN to approve renewed weapons inspections in
On January 27, 2003, the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that the Bush Administration=s claim that aluminum tubes being delivered
On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State
Colin Powell took the Bush Administration=s case to the United Nations Security
Council. In a presentation to the
United Nations, Secretary Powell charged, among other things, that
On March 18, 2003, the President submitted a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate informing the Congress of his determination that diplomatic and peaceful means alone would not protect the Nation or lead to Iraqi compliance with United Nations demands. On March 20, the President launched the preemptive invasion.
A little more than a month into the
invasion, President Bush landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and, standing
beneath a massive banner reading "Mission Accomplished,@ he stated, AMajor combat operations in
Another significant problem for the Bush
Administration was its failure to find any of the WMD that it had used to
justify the invasion. On July 6,
2003, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was sent to
Amid these admissions that the case for war
was, generously speaking, faulty, the Administration and Congressional
Republicans sought to pre-empt inquiries into the White House use or
manipulation of intelligence by launching more limited investigations. On February 6, 2004, President Bush
created the Robb-Silberman Commission, which later found that the intelligence
community was Adead wrong in almost all of its pre-war
On March 16, 2004, the Democratic staff of
the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform submitted a report to Ranking
Member Henry A. Waxman. This report, entitled A
On July 7, 2004, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported that it had found numerous failures in the intelligence-gathering and analysis process. However, that review also was explicitly not intended to look into the Administration=s use of that wrong intelligence in selling the war. To date, there has never been a truly independent, comprehensive non-partisan or bipartisan review of the Administration=s false claims regarding WMD or any other aspect of the war.
On April 28, 2004, 60 Minutes II made public a series of photos taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq documenting apparent torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by U.S. military and other personnel. Since then, reports of other alleged violations of international law involving Iraqi prisoners have been reported by the media and human rights organizations.
As the war continued into 2005, with
While evidence and accounts of
Administration insiders strongly suggested a predetermination to go to war and a
manipulation of intelligence to justify it, that evidence and those accounts
were attacked by Administration officials as inaccurate or biased. Then, on May 1, 2005, the Sunday
London Times published the first of a series of important documents known as
the ADowning Street Minutes.@
The Downing Street Minutes (DSM) are a collection of classified
documents, written by senior British officials during the spring and summer of
2002, which recounted meetings and discussions of such officials with their
American counterparts. The focus of
these meetings and discussions was the
The DSM generated significant media coverage
On June 16, 2005, Congressman Conyers and 32 Members of Congress convened an historic hearing on the Downing Street Minutes, covered by numerous press outlets. The hearing was forced to a cramped room in the basement of the Capitol since Democrats were denied ordinary hearing room space by the Republican leadership. The Republicans tried to disrupt the hearings further by holding 12 consecutive floor votes during the hearing, an unprecedented number. After the hearing, Congressman Conyers led a congressional delegation to the White House to personally deliver a letter signed by over 500,000 citizens, demanding answers from the President. To date, the White House has declined to respond to these questions that were posed by these citizens and their elected representatives in Congress.
In the meantime, after some initial false starts, delays, and denials concerning possible misconduct in the Bush Administration=s Aouting@ of Valerie Plame Wilson, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation due to conflicts of interest and, on December 30, 2003, U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was appointed to conduct the investigation of the Plame leak. By July 2005, it became apparent that Karl Rove, a senior aide to the President, was involved in the leak; a Time reporter=s notes revealed that he had spoken to Karl Rove about the case. Then, on July 18, 2005, President Bush conspicuously changed the standard for White House ethics from stating that he would fire anyone who leaked the information to firing someone only if he or she Acommitted a crime.@ With a lack of response from the Administration or from congressional Republicans, on July 22, 2005, Congressman Henry Waxman and Senator Byron Dorgan conducted a joint Democratic hearing on the ANational Security Consequences of Disclosing the Identity of a Covert Intelligence Officer.@
Ambassador Wilson was not the only
individual facing apparent retribution from the Bush Administration for
criticizing its conduct. For
example, on August 27, 2005, Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Chief Contracting officer
at the Army Corps of Engineers, was demoted in apparent retaliation for exposing
Pentagon favoritism toward a Halliburton subsidiary in awarding no-bid contracts
On October 28, 2005, Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby resigned after a federal grand jury indicted him on five charges, totaling a maximum 30-year sentence, related to the leak probe. Patrick Fitzgerald has yet to indict other individuals but has publicly stated that his investigation would remain open to consider other matters. On November 1, 2005, after numerous attempts to open an investigation on the issue, Democrats demanded answers to the Administration=s use of pre-war intelligence and led the Senate into a rare closed-door session, finally receiving a promise from the Republican majority to speed up the process.
Since that time, numerous additional disclosures have come out calling into question the Bush Administration=s pre-war veracity concerning WMD intelligence. On November 6, Senator Levin disclosed a classified Defense Department document showing that an al Qaeda prisoner, Iba al Shaykh al-Libi had been identified as a fabricator months before the Bush Administration used his claims to allege that Iraq had trained al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons. On November 20, the Los Angeles Times revealed that German intelligence officials had informed the Administration that the Iraqi defector known as ACurveball@ was not a reliable source for their mobile biological weapons charges.
Today, more than half of all Americans
believe the Administration Adeliberately misled@ the public on the reasons for going to
war. The invasion appears to have increased
and emboldened the terrorist movement. As of the date of this Report,
There are numerous, documented facts now in the public record that indicate the Bush Administration had made a decision to go to war before it sought Congressional authorization or informed the American people of that decision.
Our investigation shows that while the roots
of this decision existed even before George W. Bush was first elected president,
it became a foregone conclusion in the aftermath of the September 11
tragedy. Due to the release of the
so-called ADowning Street Minutes@ materials, we are now able to confirm that
there were agreements between the Bush and Blair governments in the spring and
summer of 2002 to go to war in
Even though the Administration had begun
planning an invasion of
$ September 8, 2002: Vice President Dick Cheney insists that Afirst of all, no decision's been made yet to launch a military operation.@
16, 2002: US Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld states "The President hasn't made a decision with respect to
$ September 19, 2002: Secretary of State Colin Powell states, AOf course, the President has not decided on a military option . . . nobody wants war as a first resort . . . [n]obody is looking for a war if it can be avoided.@
1, 2002: The President made the first in a series of statements, AOf course, I haven=t made up my mind we=re going to war with
$ November 7, 2002: AHopefully, we can do this peacefully C don=t get me wrong. And if the world were to collectively come together to do so, and to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and convince him to disarm, there=s a chance he may decide to do that. And war is not my first choice, don=t C it=s my last choice.@
$ December 4, 2002: AThis is our attempt to work with the world community to create peace. And the best way for peace is for Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm. It=s up to him to make his decision.@
December 31, 2002: AYou said we=re headed to war in
$ January 2, 2003: AFirst of all, you know, I=m hopeful we won=t have to go war, and let=s leave it at that.@
$ March 6, 2003: AI've not made up our mind about military action.@
8, 2003: AWe are doing everything we can to avoid war
$ March 17, 2003: AShould Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.@
AFrom the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go. It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying, >Go find me a way to do this.=@
-----January 11, 2004, Paul O=Neill, A60 Minutes@
Our investigation has found, in retrospect,
there were indications even before September 11, 2001 that President Bush
and key members of his Administration were fixated on the military invasion of
A>One of the keys to being seen as a great
leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. . . . My father had all this political capital
built up when he drove the Iraqis out of
According to Mr. Herskowitz, George W.
Bush=s beliefs on
In addition to Mr. Bush=s apparent belief that a successful military invasion could cause him to be seen as a great leader, additional possible motivations include responding to those right-wing critics who blamed his father for not entering Baghdad during the first Gulf War, and achieving revenge for Saddam Hussein=s reported plot to assassinate his father. Discussing Saddam Hussein, on September 26, 2002, Bush declared: AAfter all, this is the guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.@
It is also significant that key members of the Bush Administration were part of a group of so-called Aneo-conservatives@ or Aneo-cons@ who were dedicated to removing Saddam Hussein by military force. The notion of toppling Saddam Hussein and his regime dates as far back as the 1990s, when it had been a priority of a circle of neo-conservative intellectuals, led by Richard Perle, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, and Paul Wolfowitz, an Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under President George H.W. Bush. The neocons did not have the power to effectuate their goals during the Clinton Administration, but they remained tied to one another and to Dick Cheney through a number of right-wing think tanks and institutes, including the Project for the New American Century.
On January 26, 1998, the Project for the New American Century issued a letter to President Bill Clinton explicitly calling for Athe removal of Saddam Hussein=s regime from power.@ Foretelling of subsequent events, the letter calls for the United States to go to war alone and attack the United Nations, and instructs that the United States should not be Acrippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.@ The letter was signed by 18 individuals; ten of them, including Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, became members of the current Bush Administration. Other documentary evidence of the neocon vision for an invasion is manifested by the December 1, 1997 issue of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, which was headlined by a bold directive: ASaddam Must Go: A How-to Guide.@ Two of the articles were written by current Administration officials, including Paul Wolfowitz.
In September 2000, a strategy document commissioned from the Project for the New American Century by Dick Cheney, argued that A[t]he United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.@
There is other evidence from within the
highest levels of Bush=s cabinet of an early fixation on invading
This fixation on war with
“F*** Saddam. We're taking him out."
-----March, 2002, President George W. Bush, poking his head into the
office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.
It was the September 11 tragedy that gave
the President and members of his Administration the political opportunity to
Donald Rumsfeld began pushing for
retaliatory attacks against
The very first evidence regarding President
Bush=s inclination to invade
[On September 12th] I left the
This inclination was evidenced to other
senior Republicans as well. For
example, Trent Lott observed in an interview on Meet the Press that
shortly after September 11, the President made clear his intention to go after
Well, beginning in August that year and into the fall--in fact, beginning not too long after 9/11--as we had leadership meetings at breakfast with the president, he would go around the world and talk about what was going on, where the threats were, where the dangers were, and even in private discussions, it was clear to me that he thought Iraq was a destabilizing force, was a danger and a growing danger, and that we were going to have to deal with that problem.
We have also received confirmation of the
Bush Administration=s intention to invade
[T]here was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein. . . . Well, it came from the White House . . . it came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, >You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein= I said, >ButBI=m willing to say it but what=s your evidence?= And I never got any evidence.
On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed
a 22-page document marked ATOP SECRET@ that outlined the plan for going to war in
“On September 19 and 20, an advisory group known as the Defense Policy Board met at the Pentagon B with Secretary Rumsfeld in attendance B and discussed the importance of ousting Hussein.” According to Administration sources:
They met in Rumsfeld's conference room.
After a C.I.A. briefing on the 9/11 attacks, Perle introduced two guest
speakers. The first was Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at
The 9-11 Commission Report further notes
that as early as September 20, 2001, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy,
Douglas Feith, suggested attacking
By late November 2001, the President
essentially instructed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to develop an
President Bush, after a National Security
Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically, and takes him
into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, AWhat have you got in terms of plans for
The evidence of the President=s determination to go to war continues on
through 2002. On January 29, 2002,
President Bush gave his State of the Union address in which he stated that
We have also learned from three sources that
beginning as early as February 2002, the Bush Administration took specific
concrete steps to deploy military troops and assets into
Second, it is clear from Bob Woodward=s book, APlan of Attack@ that the redeployment began in the summer of 2002, well before authorized by Congress:
On July 17, Franks updated Rumsfeld on the
preparatory tasks in the region. He carefully listed the cost of each and the
risk to the mission if they didn=t proceed along the timeline which set
completion by December 1. Total cost: about $700 million . . . . Later the
president praised Rumsfeld and Franks for this strategy of moving troops in and
expanding the infrastructure. AIt was, in my judgment,@ Bush said, Aa very smart recommendation by Don and Tommy
to put certain elements in place that could easily be removed and it could be
done so in a way that was quiet so that we didn=t create a lot of noise and anxiety.” . . .
He carefully added, AThe pre-positioning of forces should not be
viewed as a commitment on my part to use military.@ He acknowledged with a terse ARight. Yup.@ that the
In his interview on 60 Minutes, Mr.
Woodward himself points out this was a basic violation of the Constitution: ASome people are gonna look at a document
called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury
unless appropriated by Congress.@
The funds were diverted from appropriation laws specifically allocated
for the war in
Third, Seymour Hersh of The New
Yorker received similar confirmation from his Administration sources of the
reallocation of intelligence assets from
Further, beginning in February 2002, senior
White House officials were also confirming to the press that military ouster of
Saddam Hussein was inevitable. On
February 13, 2002, Knight Ridder reported that, according to their
sources, APresident Bush has decided to oust Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein from power and ordered the CIA, the Pentagon and other
agencies to devise a combination of military, diplomatic and covert steps to
achieve that goal, senior
White House officials were also telling Seymour Hersh that the decision to go to war had been made and that a process to support that determination had been created:
By early March, 2002, a former White House
official told me, it was understood by many in the White House that the
President had decided, in his own mind, to go to war . . . .
The Bush Administration took many intelligence operations that had been
aimed at Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups around the world and redirected
them to the
Also, in March 2002, President Bush
reportedly poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice and said AF*** Saddam. We're taking him out.@
At the time, Rice was meeting with three
By late March 2002, Vice President Cheney
was telling his fellow Republicans that a decision to invade
Dick Cheney dropped by a Senate Republican
policy lunch soon after his 10‑day tour of the Middle East ‑ the one meant to
drum up support for a
In his book, Bob Woodward describes Cheney as a Apowerful, steamrolling force obsessed with Saddam and taking him out.@
By July of 2002, Condoleezza Rice was
offering further confirmation that President Bush=s mind was made up regarding a decision to
We know that, in early August 2002,
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair spoke by telephone and cemented the
decision to go to war. A White
House official who read the transcript of their conversation disclosed that war
was inevitable by the end of the call.
On August 29, 2002, after three months of war exercises conducted by the
Pentagon, President Bush reportedly approved a document entitled A
Not only is it clear that a decision had
been made to go to war in early 2002, it has also become apparent that the
Bombing activity designed to increase
military pressure on
The step-up in bombing was incredible. In March-April of 2002, there were hardly any bombs dropped at all. By the time September came along, several hundred tons of bombs had been dropped. The war had really started.
On May 27, 2002, a former US Air Force
combat veteran Tim Goodrich told the World Tribunal on
The Asecret air war@ was also confirmed by
The Downing Street Minutes, which cover a
time period from early March 2002 to July 23, 2002, provide the most
definitive documentary evidence that the Bush Administration had not only made
up its mind to go to war well before it sought congressional authorization, but
that it had an agreement with the British government to do so. Collectively, the documents paint a
picture of US and British officials eager to convince the public that war in
ABush 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.@ AIt seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin.@
-----July 23, 2002, The
This paper, prepared by the Office of the
Overseas and Defense Secretariat, is the first of four documents written by
various British authorities to prepare Prime Minister Blair for his early April
trip to Crawford, Texas. The
document includes the seeds of the upcoming war plan by the
Besides summarizing various legal and
political restraints, the paper warns Blair that a Alegal justification for invasion would be
needed. Subject to Law Officers
advice, none currently exists.@
The document also states, "[t]he
In this document, we learn of a nascent plan
that the rejection of United Nations weapons inspectors by
A refusal to admit UN inspectors, or their admission and subsequent likely frustration, which resulted in an appropriate finding by the Security Council could provide the justification for military action. Saddam would try to prevent this, although he has miscalculated beofre [sic]. . .
This document, the second of four papers
prepared to brief Prime Minister Blair for his upcoming Crawford trip, describes
various legal doctrines believed to be at play with regard to military
One analysis of Security Council Resolutions
suggests that, while the British hold the view that Ait is for [the Security] Council to assess
whether any such breach of those obligations has occurred,@ the
David Manning Memo (March 14, 2002)
This memo was prepared by British national
security advisor David Manning after having dinner with Condoleezza Rice. He observes that Ms. Rice is seen as an
unalloyed advocate of military action against
David Manning advises Prime Minister Tony Blair that President Bush had yet to find the answers to the Abig@ questions, such as: how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified; what value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition; how to coordinate a US/allied military campaign with internal opposition (assuming there is any); what happens on the morning after?
Manning also wrote, A[t]he issue of the weapons inspectors must
be handled in a way that would persuade European and wider opinion that the
Manning also attempted to prepare Blair for his upcoming trip to Crawford: AI think there is a real risk that the Administration underestimates the difficulties. They may agree that failure isn=t an option, but this really does not mean that they will avoid it.@ The memo went on to say: "Condi's enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed.@
The Meyer Memo (March 18, 2002)
In this memo from Christopher Meyer, the
British Ambassador in
Meyer goes on to note that AWolfowitz said that it was absurd to deny
the link between terrorism and Saddam.@
Meyer told Wolfowitz that Aif the
Mr. Meyer had previously recalled that in
the fall of 2001, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on
terror. As noted above, Bush
replied, AI agree with you Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with
The Ricketts Memo (March 22, 2002)
Peter Ricketts, the Political Director of
the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote this memo to the U.K. Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw as the third of four documents advising the Prime Minister
on his trip to Crawford. This memo
is an early indication that at least the British were concerned that
unmanipulated intelligence did not provide a strong case for
In the memo, Ricketts expressed relief at
the postponement of the publication of a dossier that detailed the limited state
Ricketts offered one final piece of advice: AThe truth is that what has changed is not the pace of Saddam Hussein's WMD programmes, but our tolerance of them post-11 September . . . attempts to claim otherwise publicly will increase scepticism about our case.@
The Straw Memo (March 25, 2002)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote this
final of four memos to Tony Blair before his April trip to Crawford. The memo confirms once again that the
Bush Administration anticipates military action to remove Saddam Hussein and
again advocates the efficacy of delivering a legal ultimatum to
According to Secretary Straw, the legal obstacles are difficult to surmount:
regime change per se is no justification for
military action; it could form part of the method of any strategy, but not a
goal. Of course, we may
want credibly to assert that regime change is an essential part of the strategy
by which we have to achieve our ends - that of the elimination of
Echoing the advice of Peter Ricketts, Straw
notes that A[o]bjectively, the threat from
The Cabinet Office Paper (July 21, 2002)
The British Cabinet Office prepared a
briefing paper for participants at the upcoming July 23 meeting from which the
Downing Street Minutes would be generated.
The paper reiterates that Prime Minister Blair had already agreed to back
military action to eliminate Saddam Hussein=s regime at the April summit in
The memo again highlights the need to make
an ultimatum for Hussein that he would reject, and expresses concern about
[I]t is necessary to create the conditions in
which we could legally support military action. Otherwise we face the real danger that the
US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very
difficult to support . . . US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British
bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia . . . [i]t is just possible that an ultimatum could
be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept
unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the
international community . . . [a] post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a
protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the
The Cabinet Office Paper also provides additional evidence of the concerted strategy to use the United Nations route as a pretext for war. The Paper confirms the now accepted notion that the United Nations could be used as an excuse for going to war, and broaches the idea of using the United Nations to create a legal deadline for military action. The Paper states, A[w]e need to set a deadline, leading to an ultimatum. It would be preferable to obtain backing of a UNSCR [United Nations Security Council Resolution] for any ultimatum and early work would be necessary to explore with Kofi Annan and the Russians, in particular, the scope for achieving this.@ Significantly, the Cabinet Office Paper goes on to conclude that the onus is on the United States to insure that the preconditions for war are met, writing, the Bush Administration would need to Acreat[e] the conditions necessary to justify government military action . . .@
The July 23, 2002 Downing Street Minutes,
the most important and well publicized of the Downing Street Minutes materials
B sometimes described as the Asmoking gun memo@ B is a document obtained from an undisclosed
source that contains the minutes taken during a meeting among the highest
officials in the United Kingdom government and defense intelligence
figures. The British authorities
discuss the build up to the
Perhaps the most important passage in the
July 23 Minutes is a report of a recent visit to
C reported on his recent talks in
The Minutes also record British Defense
Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying, Athe
The British realized they needed "help with
the legal justification for the use of force" because, as the British Attorney
General pointed out, "the desire for regime change was not a legal base for
military action." Moreover, the Attorney General stated
that of the "three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian
intervention, or [United Nations Security Council] authorisation," the first two
"could not be the base in this case."
In other words,
At this point in the meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair weighed in. Responding to his minister's suggestion about drafting an ultimatum demanding that Saddam let United Nations inspectors back in the country, Blair acknowledged that such an ultimatum could be politically critical B but only if the Iraqi leader turned it down:
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. . . . If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work
As if there were any doubt about the intentions of using the United Nations to provoke war, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observes, A[w]e should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.@
While the Bush Administration has sought to either ignore or diminish the Downing Street Minutes, they have ultimately proved to be important not only because they were in documentary form, but also because of their source, a critical Bush Administration ally. Unlike other disclosures by ex-Administration officials and others, which the White House has characterized as biased, these disclosures cannot be dismissed as mere sour grapes.
As Cindy Sheehan stated so eloquently at the
June 10, 2005 hearing on the Downing Street Minutes, convened by Representative
Conyers: AI am even more convinced now, that this
Our research indicates there is little doubt as to the accuracy of the Downing Street Minutes and related documents. Sources within the Blair and Bush Administrations have confirmed their accuracy, and we have been able to independently confirm and corroborate the major precepts of the various documents.
It is telling that when the Downing Street
Minutes were first published by the Sunday London Times, shortly before
the 2005 British election, the Blair Administration chose not to deny their
authenticity. Shortly after the
Minutes were released, sources within both the Bush and Blair Administrations
confirmed their accuracy to the press.
A former senior
In addition, elements of the Downing Street Minutes can be independently corroborated. Consider the core, specific provisions of the July 23 Downing Street Minutes from Richard Dearlove, in which he describes his recent discussions with the Bush Administration:
· By mid-July 2002, eight months before the war began, President Bush had decided to Aremove Saddam, through military action.@
This statement that ABush wanted to remove Saddam, through
military action@ has been proven true B on March 20, 2003, the
It is also worth noting that in March 2003, Tony Blair reportedly said, A[l]eft to himself, Bush would have gone to war in January. No, not January, but back in September.@
· Bush had decided to "justify" the war "by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."
This statement is borne out by the entire Amarketing campaign,@ which fixated on these twin justifications (see Section III(A)(4) of this Report). For example, the Bush Administration formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in August 2002 to persuade the public of Saddam=s supposed threat and to market the war. The Administration waited to introduce the WHIG=s product to the public until September 2002, because, as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told The New York Times in an unusually candid interview, A[y]ou don't introduce new products in August.@
· Already "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
The statement that Athe intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy@ is confirmed by the multi-layered effort by the Administration to pressure officials within the Administration to find links between Saddam and September 11 and to manipulate intelligence officials and agencies into overstating WMD threats (see Section III(B) of this Report).
· Many at the top of the administration Ahad no patience@ with the UN route.@
This statement is consistent with the realities of the Bush Administration=s intentions at the time. For example, Vice President Cheney=s stated opinion was that there was no need to seek any approval from the UN to invade. He has stated: AA return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with UN resolutions. On the contrary, there is great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow Aback in the box.@ Mr. Cheney, like other administration Ahard-liners,@ was said to have feared Athe UN route@ not because it might fail but because it might succeed and thereby prevent a war that they were convinced had to be fought.@
AThere was little discussion in
Unfortunately, this statement has been verified by events following the war (see below). Among other things, in an ironic assessment of the events to follow, Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on Meet the Press and stated that the war was not going to be long, costly or bloodly because Awe will be greeted as liberators.@ As the war unfolded, numerous gaps in planning became apparent.
The statement that the
· The British believed A[w]e should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification or the use of force.@
The initiative of the British to go back to
the UN to force an Aultimatum@ has also been proven true (see Section
III(A)(5) of this Report). The
Other documents released in conjunction with the Downing Street Minutes have also been independently corroborated. For example, the Cabinet Office Paper from July 21, 2002 and the Iraq Options Paper from March 8, 2002 include the following:
Blair had already agreed to back military
action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit in Crawford,
This plan came to fruition. Akrotiri, the British air base in
international coalition is necessary to provide military platform and desirable
for political purposes, even though this coalition was made up of small powers,
ATime will be required to prepare public
opinion in the
The British Administration engaged in such a marketing campaign, with the Prime Minister persuading the Parliament and public of the case for war.
· AThe optimal times to start action are in early spring.@
The war began on March 20, 2003, the first day of spring.
AFrom a marketing point of view … you don't introduce new products in August.@
-----August 2002, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card commenting on the formation of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) to market the war.
The Bush Administration manipulated public
opinion by engaging in what Andrew Card, President Bush=s Chief of Staff, described as a
Amarketing@ plan to justify the war. In retrospect, it is apparent that this
marketing plan was decided and implemented well before Mr. Card=s admission. The Downing Street Minutes, written in
the spring and summer of 2002, provide valuable insights into the upcoming
marketing of the justifications for war.
Not only was the British government well aware of the planned
In August 2002, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld ramped up the rhetoric to a significant degree, comparing Saddam Hussein to Adolph Hitler, and deriding those asking the Bush Administration to substantiate their Weapons of Mass Destruction claims:
Think of the prelude to World War Two. Think of all the countries that said, well, we don=t have enough evidence. I mean, Mein Kampf had been written. Hitler had indicated what he intended to do. Maybe he won=t attack us. Maybe he won=t do this or that. Well, there were millions of people dead because of the miscalculations. The people who argued for waiting for more evidence have to ask themselves how they are going to feel at that point where another event occurs.
By August 2002, the Aso-called@ White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed as
a coordinating center to convince the public of the need for the
During this time period, there is additional evidence of other Bush Administration officials seeking to manipulate public opinion to support war. For example, ABC News reported that officials both inside and outside the government said the Bush Administration would emphasize the danger of Saddam=s weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and also emphasize the danger at home to Americans, A>We were not lying,= said one official. >But it was just a matter of emphasis.=@ Consider also Paul Wolfowitz=s statement regarding why Iraq=s supposed control over weapons of mass destruction was ultimately used to pitch the public on the war: A[F]or bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.@
Early September was a critical period in the
WHIG=s existence. It was on September 6 that The New
York Times reported that Andrew Card explained the reason for delaying the
roll-out of their pro-war campaign: AFrom a marketing point of view ... you
don=t introduce new products in
It is quite telling that he referred to their
Two days later, on September 8, the Amarketing@ campaign began in earnest. As described in one publication:
The PR campaign intensified Sunday,
September 8 . . . in a choreographed performance worthy of Riverdance,
Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Richard Myers said on
separate talk shows that the aluminum tubes, suitable only for centrifuges,
Frank Rich describes the flurry of activity on that day:
All the references to nuclear threats were beginning to have their intended impact. As The Washington Post recounts, the administration's talk of clandestine centrifuges, nuclear blackmail and mushroom clouds had a powerful political effect, particularly on Senators who were facing fall election campaigns. AWhen you hear about nuclear weapons, this is the national security knock-out punch,@ said Senator Ron Wyden.
In early October, in advance of a congressional vote to authorize military action, the WHIG released a Awhite paper.@ The paper is based on the rushed, confidential CIA intelligence assessment. As Newsweek reported:
The publicly released white paper
unequivocally backed up the White House=s case about the dangers posed by
The more detailed, classified NIE also included the State and Energy Departments= dissents about the intended use of aluminum tubes. Both agencies had concluded that the tubes were not suited for use in centrifuges. Yet the publicly released white paper mentioned no disagreement on the aluminum tubes issue, removed qualifiers and added language to distort the severity of the threat.
Communications Director James Wilkinson, who played a prominent role in the writing of the white paper, emphasized the importance the group placed on nuclear threat imagery, no matter how attenuated:
By summer 2002, the White House Iraq
Group assigned Communications Director James R. Wilkinson to prepare a white
paper for public release, describing the "grave and gathering danger" of
This characterization of the WHIG and its product, as using a no-holds barred approach to develop strategy and rhetoric designed to pursue war, is consistent with what we have learned from other sources. For example, Bush Administration officials who observed the white paper=s development noted that the WHIG Awanted gripping images and stories not available in the hedged and austere language of intelligence.@ Even Bush Administration supporter David Brooks was forced to acknowledge Afrom Day One," the Bush White House "decided our public relations is not going to be honest."
The strong congressional vote on October 11,
was also aided in large part by the timing B less than one month before the mid-term
elections. This favorable timing
was not an accident. Among other
things, it was anticipated as early as the July
Also, on September 12, 2002, President Bush
gave a speech at the United Nations in which he declared that A
Other reports on the manner in which the Bush Administration was planning its campaign to convince the public and the Congress of the need for war further confirm the sense that this was more a public relations endeavor than an honest and frank sharing of information with the American public. For example, in December 2002, when the President was being briefed on WMD evidence, his basic concern appears to have been with the public relations value of the information, rather than its actual efficacy. Bob Woodward reported that when Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin presented his best evidence of weapons of mass destruction, complete with satellite photos and flip charts, the President responded by exclaiming ANice try, but that isn=t gonna sell Joe Public. That isn=t gonna convince Joe Public. . . . This is the best we=ve got?@
By January, of course, there were fewer and
fewer doubts that the decision to go to war had been made. As noted in Bob Woodward=s APlan of Attack,@ January was when the Bush White House
Awas planning a big rollout of speeches and
documents@ to advance the war. By January 12, 2003, Secretary of State
Colin Powell had become exasperated with the head long push for war. State Department officials have said
that after White House meetings, Secretary Colin Powell would return to his
office on the seventh floor of the State Department, roll his eyes and say,
AJeez, what a fixation about
Finally, on January 28, 2003, President Bush
gave his State of the Union Speech, in which he declared the now infamous 16
words: AThe British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from
Just as the Bush Administration engaged in a public relations style campaign to convince the nation to support the war, the record shows it also sought to manipulate public opinion to convince the American public that the upcoming occupation would be straight forward and relatively peaceful. Prior to the war, senior members of the Bush Administration repeatedly downplayed the risks and overstated the ease of the occupation. For example, rejecting Army Secretary Eric Shinseki's assessment that the mission would require large numbers of troops for a long duration, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stated: AI am reasonably certain that they will greet us as liberators, and that will help us to keep requirements down. In short, we don't know what the requirement will be, but we can say with reasonable confidence that the notion of hundreds of thousands of American troops is way off the mark.@
Later, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld echoed
these remarks, stating that A[t]he idea that it would take several
hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is far off the mark@
Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on Meet the Press
and stated that the war would be quick and easy: AI really do believe that we will be greeted
as liberators. I've talked with a
lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself. . . . The read we get on the people of
Also in this regard, comprehensive reports written by four ex-CIA analysts and led by former Deputy Director Richard Kerr found:
Policymakers worried more about making the
case for the war; particularly the claim that
The evidence we have identified indicates that the Bush Administration deliberately chose to downplay real and credible risks regarding the occupation in order to help make the strongest case for war for the public. Thus, for example, in January 2003, when President Jacques Chirac=s top advisor, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, warned Condoleezza Rice that the war would lead to an increase in terrorism, the National Secretary Advisor ignored the warnings:
Gourdault-Montagne talked of the unrest that
would no doubt erupt among
As a matter of fact, it has been reported that the National Intelligence Council specifically warned President Bush in January 2003 that Athe conflict could spark factional violence and an anti-U.S. insurgency . . . [o]ne of the reports said the U.S.-led occupation could >increase popular sympathy for terrorist objectives.=@
State Department officials warned not only
about the lack of planning for the occupation, but also of future human rights
The Downing Street Minutes also indicate
There is also considerable evidence
indicating that the Bush Administration went into armed conflict in
We have also to answer the big question
B what will this action achieve? There seems to be a larger hole in this
than on anything. Most of the
assessments from the
Around the same time, British Foreign Policy
Advisor David Manning wrote a memo to Prime Minister Blair in which, based on
Manning=s dinner with Condoleezza Rice, he continued
to express concern regarding the lack of United States preparation for an Iraq
occupation: AFrom what [Rice] said, Bush has yet to find
the answers to the big questions including what happens on the morning
Later on in the memo, Manning again raises questions regarding the Bush
Administration=s preparedness for a post-occupation of
Perhaps most famously, in the Downing Street
Minutes, when AC,@ (Sir Richard Dearlove) reported on his
recent discussions in
Finally, we now know that a classified State
Department report, disclosed by The Los Angeles Times,
concluded that it was unlikely that installing a new government in
----October 2002 statement by Vice President Cheney, recounted by Iraq Survey Group head Hans Blix as a Apretty straight way . . . of saying that if we did not soon find the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. was convinced Iraq possessed . . . , the U.S. would be ready to say that the inspectors were useless and embark on disarmament by other means.@
The manipulation and marketing of the
From the very outset, the Bush Administration was antagonistic to any successes the United Nation inspectors may have achieved. It pursued language that would most easily have paved the way for war and then sought to discredit the very inspections process the Security Council had just approved. When the weapons inspections process appeared to be working and the votes appeared lacking to obtain a Security Council vote to authorize war, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair met on January 31, 2003, to discuss alternative scenarios of provoking war. Finally, when the plan to provoke war failed and the Security Council made clear it would not authorize military action, the Bush Administration was forced to adopt a contorted and extreme view of international law in order to justify military intervention.
As early as August 2002, British Foreign
Secretary Straw arrived in the
As we now know, this course of action was set forth in the various Downing Street Minutes materials described earlier in Section III(A)(3) of this Report. The deceptiveness of this course of events has not been lost on other observers. As Mark Danner of the New York Review of Books has written, these discussions were not about preserving the peace, or even allowing the inspectors to do the job, but about finding a legal justification for war:
Though >the UN route= would be styled as an attempt to avoid war, its essence, as the Downing Street memo makes clear, was a strategy to make the war possible, partly by making it politically palatable . . . [t]hus, the idea of UN inspectors was introduced not as a means to avoid war, as President Bush repeatedly assured Americans, but as a means to make war possible. War had been decided on; the problem under discussion here was how to make, in the prime minister's words, >the political context . . .right= . . . [t]he demand that Iraq accept UN inspectors, especially if refused, could form the political bridge by which the allies could reach their goal: >regime change= through >military action.=
By September 7, 2002, Woodward detailed a
personal visit by Blair to persuade President Bush to go to the United
Nations: AIt was critical domestically for the Prime
Minister to show his own Labour Party, a pacifist party at heart, opposed to war
in principle, that he had gone the UN route. Public opinion in the
Five days later, on September 12, 2002,
President Bush announced that the
Four days later, on September 16, Annan
stood before the microphones at the U.N. and announced he had received a letter
from Iraqi authorities that said
Thereafter, the Bush Administration engaged
in an effort to discredit the weapons inspectors before they were even able to
do their work. For example, on
September 19, 2002, Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate that "the more
inspectors that are in there, the less likely something's going to happen."
The same day, President Bush threatened that, "if the United Nations Security
Council won't deal with the problem, the
After this initial round of Asaber-rattling,@ the Administration then pursued an extreme
B and ultimately unsuccessful B resolution that would have allowed an
automatic trigger path to military action.
The initial draft of Resolution 1441, prepared by the Bush
Administration, threatened the use of "all necessary means" should
After this failure, the Bush Administration
continued to pursue its strategy of using the United Nations action to justify
military action, dismissing the inspection process recently approved by the
UN. Almost immediately,
On December 7, 2002, the Iraqis issued a 12,000-page document, accounting
for the state of
stated the position that inspections, if
they do not give results, cannot go on forever, and said the
By December 2002 and January 2003, it was
becoming increasingly apparent that the Bush Administration was not providing
full cooperation with UN inspection teams.
In December, UNMOVIC weapons inspection leader Hans Blix had called on
On February 20, 2003, CBS News reported: AUN arms inspectors are privately complaining about the quality of US intelligence and accusing the United States of sending them on wild-goose chases . . . The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous US leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms . . . UN sources have told CBS News that American tips have lead to one dead end after another.@ And whatever intelligence has been provided, reports CBS, has turned out to be Acircumstantial, outdated or just plain wrong.@
Moreover, despite repeated assurances of cooperation, the IAEA received no information on the Niger-uranium claim until the day before Powell=s United Nations presentation, even though Bush Administration officials had such information for over a year and provision of information was mandated by U. N. Resolution 1441:
The U.S. Mission in
By late January, the UN was not finding any
According to Bob Woodward, the accounts of
Iraqis cooperating with UN weapons inspectors by opening up buildings
Ainfuriated@ President Bush, who believed, in Woodward's
words, that the Aunanimous international consensus of the
November [UN] resolution was beginning to fray.@
President Bush told Rice that the Apressure isn't holding together.@
President Bush also commented about the antiwar protests in the
These issues arose in the run up to
Secretary of State Colin Powell=s February 5, 2003, presentation to the
United Nations Security Council. To
the Bush Administration=s chagrin, the presentation did not produce
a Asmoking gun@ that would cause other members of the
Council to join in efforts to authorize the use of force. Indeed, it now appears clear that by
this time, the Bush Administration had no intelligence of its own that could
provide hard evidence to support any claim that Saddam Hussein possessed any WMD
On February 14, Hans Blix appeared before
the Security Council and essentially contradicted Powell's presentation: AThe trucks that Powell had described as
being used for chemical decontamination, Blix said, could just as easily have
been used for >routine activity.=
He contradicted Powell's assertion that the Iraqis knew in advance when
the inspectors would be arriving. Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA weighed in as
well, insisting that, at least on the nuclear front, there was no evidence
Saddam had any viable program.
Further, Blix said that
On February 24, 2003, the Bush Administration opted to propose the long-awaited Asecond resolution@ authorizing war. Although the resolution was ultimately withdrawn on March 17, 2003, without a vote B even though President Bush had assured all concerned that there would be a vote Ano matter what the whip count is@ B the Bush Administration=s desperate tactics to obtain passage, even to the point of wiretapping the communications of Security Council Members, belie the true purpose of the United Nations route.
For example, the Bush Administration engaged in a secret Adirty tricks@ campaign against UN Security Council delegations as part of its struggle to win votes in favor of the requisite second resolution. A memorandum written by a top official at the U.S. National Security Agency details an aggressive surveillance operation that involved the interception of home and office telephone calls and e-mails and was particularly directed at AUN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course).@ The memo was directed at senior NSA officials and advises them that the agency is Amounting a surge@ aimed at gleaning information not only on how delegations on the Security Council will vote on any second resolution on Iraq, but also Apolicies,@ Anegotiating positions,@ Aalliances@ and Adependencies@ B the Awhole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises.@
The existence of this surveillance operation
severely undercut the credibility and efforts of the Administration to win over
undecided delegations. In addition,
diplomats complained about the outright Ahostility@ of
Further proof that the Bush Administration used the United Nations as a pretext for war can be seen in the fact that by March, after it was clear the votes did not exist for a second resolution, the Administration engaged in furious and frantic efforts to develop the legal cover to justify military action. Thus, the Bush Administration began to argue that the invasion would be pursuant to a Security Council Resolution. In a speech immediately preceding the invasion, President Bush cited to three previous UN Security Council resolutions that purportedly conferred legal authorization for force. These were: (1) the recent Resolution 1441, which dealt with the renewed weapons inspections; (2) Resolution 678, adopted in 1990, authorizing force in the Persian Gulf war; and (3) Resolution 687, adopted shortly after the war ended, imposing economic sanctions and calling for the surrender for WMD.
The Bush administration=s legal justifications for changing course
and action without a second resolution also lack credibility. With respect to Resolution 1441, the
clear weight of authority signaled that it did not in itself authorize force and
that the Administration would need a second resolution from the Security
Council. In fact, the
Even Richard Perle, a noted war hawk,
acknowledged that legal precedent did not support the unilateral action taken by
the Bush and Blair Administration.
Before an audience in
While the Bush Administration was forced to
make these far fetched legal arguments, British legal authorities found
themselves in the position of having to completely reverse their initial
assessments of the illegality of the war.
Thus, although as recently as Spring 2002, it was clear British legal
advisors understood that applicable international law did not justify military
less than one year later, British authorities were altering their legal analysis
and conclusions. For example, on
March 17, 2003, the British Attorney General produced a memo that provided an
unequivocal justification for the use of force, which contained no caveats or
reservations. His new view, which
still remains contentious in
This abrupt about face led to a legal storm
One casualty, Elizabeth Wimshurst, Deputy Legal Adviser at the British Foreign Office, stated in he letter of resignation in protest of the war that the invasion of Iraq is a Acrime of aggression.@ She said she could not agree to military action in circumstances she described as Aso detrimental to the international order and the rule of law.@  She also noted:
I regret that I cannot agree that it is
lawful to use force against
AThere was a great deal of pressure to find a
reason to go to war with
-----Fall/Winter, 2001, a CIA official working on WMD
Our investigation reveals that there was a
steady stream of pressure and other forms of influence placed on intelligence
and other government officials by the Bush Administration to adopt assessments
supporting war with
As a general matter, the record reveals that the Bush Administration engaged in several techniques to insure that the available intelligence information would be used to justify war B including the application of political pressure on intelligence officials, Astovepiping@ (whereby raw and unfiltered data was forwarded directly to the White House); Acherry-picking@ (by which the White House only utilized those bits of data and information, often without qualification or caveat, that supported a case for war); and selectively leaking information (including classified information) to the media.
We know about these techniques from numerous and repeated disclosures by current and former intelligence and Administration officials. Perhaps most damaging are the candid assessments by life-long Republican and former Treasury Secretary Paul O=Neill and Secretary of State Powell=s former Chief of Staff, Lawrence Wilkerson. Mr. O=Neill recounted, AIf you operate in a certain way - by saying this is how I want to justify what I've already decided to do, and I don't care how you pull it off - you guarantee that you'll get faulty, one-sided information . . . [y]ou don't have to issue an edict, or twist arms, or be overt.@ Lawrence Wilkerson recently stated:
The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process, . . . What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made . . . [when a decision was presented to the bureaucracy], it was presented in such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn=t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.
With regard to outright pressure, a former CIA analyst described the intense pressure brought to bear on CIA analysts by the Bush Administration: AThe analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet@ C the CIA director C Afor not protecting them. I=ve never seen a government like this.@
In a similar vein, The Washington Post described the pressure on intelligence officials from a barrage of high-ranking Bush Administration officials:
Former and current intelligence officials said they felt a continual drumbeat, not only from Cheney and Libby, but also from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Feith, and less so from CIA Director George J. Tenet, to find information or write reports in a way that would help the administration make the case that going into Iraq was urgent. AThey were the browbeaters,@ said a former defense intelligence official who attended some of the meetings in which Wolfowitz and others pressed for a different approach to the assessments they were receiving. AIn interagency meetings,@ he said, AWolfowitz treated the analysts' work with contempt.@
There are numerous other instances and corroboration of this pressure. For example, on October 8, 2002, Knight Ridder reported that various military officials, intelligence employees, and diplomats in the Bush Administration charged Athat the administration squelches dissenting views and that intelligence analysts are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Hussein poses such an immediate threat to the United States that preemptive military action is necessary.@ It has also been reported that the Vice President=s staff monitored the National Security Council staff in such a heavy-handed fashion that some N.S.C. staff Aquit using e-mails for substantive conversations because they knew the vice president=s alternate national security staff was reading their e-mails now.@ United States Diplomat John Brady Kiesling resigned his post as a diplomat because of the flaws in the intelligence process. In his resignation letter, he cited his opposition to the Adistortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion.@
A CIA official working on WMD
explained: A>[T]here was a great deal of pressure to find
a reason to go to war with
With regard to stovepiping and
cherry-picking, a former intelligence aid stated: A>There=s so much intelligence out there that
it=s easy to pick and choose your case . . .
[i]t opens things up to cherry-picking.=@
Former CIA officer Robert Baer concluded on the CNN documentary Dead
Wrong, that Athe problem is the White House
didn=t go to the CIA and say >tell me the truth,=it said >give me ammunition.=@
As Spencer Ackerman and John Judis found in their article AThe First Casualty,@ Ainterviews with current and former
intelligence officials and other experts reveal that the Bush administration
Seymour Hersh similarly found that: AChalabi=s defector reports were now flowing from the Pentagon directly to the Vice-President=s office, and then on to the President, with little prior evaluation by intelligence professionals.@
Former National Security Council official, Ken Pollack, confirmed how the Bush Administration abused the intelligence process in order to justify invading Iraq, observing the Bush team had Adismantle[d] the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them. They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information.@
Similar, damaging acknowledgments of intelligence manipulations have been made by ex-CIA officials. Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA=s former head of counter-intelligence admitted, ABasically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there=s a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.@ Michael Scheuer, a CIA analyst, echoed this when he stated, A[t]here was just a resignation within the agency that we were going to war against Iraq and it didn=t make any difference what the analysis was or what kind of objections or countervailing forces there were to an invasion. We were going to war.@
In an interview on the PBS show Frontline, Greg Thielmann, Director of the Strategic, Proliferation and Military Affairs Office at the State Department=s
Intelligence Bureau, who was responsible for
analyzing the Iraq’s weapon threat, accused the White House of Asystematic, across-the-board
exaggeration@ of intelligence as it made its case that
Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the U.S. He further contended that Asenior officials made statements which I can
only describe as dishonest.@
Mr. Thielmann has also stated that Athe American public was seriously
misled. The Administration twisted,
distorted, and simplified intelligence in a way that led Americans to seriously
misunderstand the nature of the
It also appears that the Bush Administration engaged in an organized effort to selectively leak information to the media in order to help justify the case for war. As Knight Ridder reported:
A Knight Ridder review of the administration=s arguments, its own reporting at the time and the Senate Intelligence Committee=s 2004 report shows that the White House followed a pattern of using questionable intelligence, even documents that turned out to be forgeries, to support its case B often leaking classified information to receptive journalists B and dismissing information that undermined the case for war.
This process of selective leaking appears to have had a particularly debilitating impact on the intelligence community:
A routine settled in: the Pentagon=s defector reports, classified Asecret,@ would be funneled to newspapers, but subsequent C.I.A. and INR analyses of the reports B invariably scathing but also classified B would remain secret. AIt became a personality issue,@ a Pentagon consultant said of the Bush Administration=s handling of intelligence. AMy fact is better than your fact. The whole thing is a failure of process. Nobody goes to primary sources.@ The intelligence community was in full retreat.
Some of the above-described techniques can be seen in two instances B the visits by the Vice President and Scooter Libby to CIA headquarters; and efforts by the Vice President and his office to influence and manipulate Secretary of State Powell=s February, 2003 speech before the United Nations.
It is now well known that the Vice President
himself, along with his Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, made numerous visits to
CIA Headquarters in
Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials. With Cheney taking the lead in the administration last August in advocating military action against Iraq by claiming it had weapons of mass destruction, the visits by the Vice President and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, >sent signals . . . that a certain output was desired from here,= one senior agency official said yesterday . . .. The exact number of trips by Cheney to the CIA could not be learned, but one agency official described them as "multiple." They were taken in addition to Cheney's regular attendance at President Bush's morning intelligence briefings and the special briefings the vice president receives when he is at an undisclosed location for security reasons.
Some analysts went even further in detailing
the pressure placed on them by the Vice President=s visits. According to former CIA officials, the
visits created a Achill factor@ among those working on
The record also shows that the Bush Administration gave the Secretary of State significant amounts of biased and one-sided intelligence information and then pressured the Secretary to skew his presentation to the United Nations. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell=s Chief of Staff at the time of the speech, has stated that when the Secretary of State first received background materials for his speech from the White House: A[Powell] came through the door that morning and he had in his hand a sheaf of papers and he said this is what I=ve got to present at the United Nations according to the White House and you need to look at it . . . [i]t was anything but an intelligence document. It was, as some people characterized it later, sort of a Chinese menu from which you could pick and choose.@ Powell himself junked much of what the CIA had given him to read, reportedly calling it Abull****.@
This was followed by numerous meetings in which the Vice President=s office sought to pressure Mr. Powell to make the case for war:
The meetings [between the Vice President=s staff and the Secretary of State=s staff] stretched on for four more days and nights. Cheney's staff constantly pushed for certain intelligence on Iraq's alleged ties to terrorists to be included-information that Powell and his people angrily insisted was not reliable . . .Cheney and his staff had insisted that their intelligence was, in fact, well documented. They told Powell not to worry. One morning a few days before the speech, Powell encountered Cheney in the hallway outside the Oval Office. >Your poll numbers are in the 70s,= Cheney told him. >You can afford to lose a few points.=
It also has been reported that Mr. Libby was pushing so hard to include certain intelligence information in the speech that Mr. Libby called Mr. Powell=s suite at the Waldorf Astoria hotel the night before the speech. John E. McLaughlin, then-deputy director of the CIA, has testified to Congress that Amuch of our time in the run-up to the speech was spent taking out material . . . that we and the secretary=s staff judged to have been unreliable.