Table of Contents

Introduction by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. 1

Summary. 4

I.   The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War 8

A.  Chronology: Last Throes of Credibility. 8

B.  Detailed Findings 13

1. Determination to go to War before Congressional Authorization. 13

a.   Avenging the Father and Working with the Neo-Cons 14

b.   September 11 and its Aftermath:  Beating the Drums for War 16

c.   The Downing Street Minutes and Documentary Evidence of an Agreement to go to War 22

i.  Description and Analysis of Various Downing Street Minutes    Materials 23

ii. Confirmation and Corroboration of Downing Street Minutes     Materials 28

d.   Manipulating Public Opinion. 32

e.   Using the United Nations as a Pretext for War 39

2.  Misstating and Manipulating the Intelligence to Justify Pre-emptive War 45

a.  Links to September 11 and al Qaeda. 51

i.     General Linkages Between Iraq and al Qaeda. 53

ii.    Meeting Between Mohammed Atta and Iraqi Officials 57

iii.   Iraq Training al Qaeda Members to Use Chemical and  Biological Weapons 57

b.  Resumed Efforts to Acquire Nuclear Weapons 58

i.     General Assertions 59

ii.    Claims Regarding Hussein=s Son-in-Law. 61

iii.   Statement that Iraq Was Six Months from Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon. 62

c.  Aluminum Tubes 62

d.  Acquisition of Uranium from Niger 70

e.  Chemical and Biological Weapons 75

i.   General Assertions Regarding Chemical and Biological  Weapons 78

ii.  Assertions Regarding Buried Chemical and Other Weapons 79

iii.  Assertions Regarding Mobile Biological Weapons 80

iv.   Unmanned Aerial Vehicles 82

3.  Encouraging and Countenancing Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and

     Degrading Treatment 82

a.  Documented Instances of Torture and Other Legal Violations 83

i.    Torture and Murder 83

ii.   Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment 86

iii.  Other Possible Violations of International Treaties 86

b.  Bush Administration Responsibility for Torture and Other Legal  Violations 88

i.   Department of Justice. 88

ii.  Department of Defense. 92

4.  Cover-ups and Retribution. 96

a.  The Niger Forgeries and the ASlimming@ of Ambassador Wilson and his Family  96

i.    Disclosure and Panic. 97

ii.   Retribution and Damage. 99

iii.  Delays, Conflicts, and More Lies 101

b.  Other Instances of Bush Administration Retribution Against its Critics 103

i.   Former General Eric Shinseki and Others in the Military. 104

ii.   Former Secretary of Treasury Paul O=Neill and Economic Adviser Lawrence Lindsey. 105

iii.  Richard Clarke. 106

iv.  Cindy Sheehan. 108

v.   Jeffrey Kofman. 109

vi.   International OrganizationsBthe Organization for the Prohibition   of Chemic Weapons and the IAEA. 109

vii.  Bunnatine Greenhouse. 111

viii. The Central Intelligence Agency and its Employees 112

c. Ongoing Lies, Deceptions and Manipulations 114

i.    Efficacy of the Occupation. 114

ii.   Cost of the War and Occupation. 118

iii.  Ongoing Deceptions Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction and    the Decision to Go to War 119

iv.  Impact of the Iraq War on Terrorism. 123

5.   Thwarting Congress and the American Public: The Death of Accountability under the Bush Administration and the Republican-Controlled Congress 123

a.  Determination to Go to War Without Congressional Authorization. 123

b.  Manipulation of the Intelligence to Justify the War 125

c.  Encouraging and Countenancing Torture. 127

d.  Post-War Cover-Ups and Retribution and More Deceptions 129

II.   Unlawful Domestic Surveillance and the Decline of Civil Liberties Under the Administration of George W. Bush. 132

A.  Chronology:  Democracy Without Checks and Balances 132

B.  Detailed Findings 138

1.  Domestic Surveillance:  Spying On Innocent Americans without Court     Approval and Outside of the Law. 138

a.  The warrantless surveillance program violates FISA and the Fourth Amendment, the NSA database program appears to violate the Stored Communications Act and the Communications Act of 1934, and the programs have been briefed in violation of the National Security Act 138

i.    September 11 Use of Force Resolution. 139

ii.   Inherent Authority as Commander-In-Chief 141

iii.  Fourth Amendment 144

iv.  NSA Domestic Database Program. 145

v.   Additional Non-Legal Justifications 147

vi.  Intelligence Briefings In Violation of the National Security Act 150

b. The legal justifications used to justify the NSA programs threaten         to establish a constitutionally destabilizing precedent 151

c. President Bush and other high ranking members of the Bush Administration appear to have made a number of misleading   statements concerning the NSA programs 153

i.  Statements that the government was only intercepting    communications involving American citizens pursuant to court approved warrants. 154

ii.  Statements that no purely domestic communications were intercepted under the warrantless wiretapping program. 156

iii. Statements that the government is not monitoring telephone       calls and other communications within the U.S. 158

iv.  Statements that Members of Congress briefed by the Bush  Administration had not questioned the legality or     appropriateness of the NSA Programs. 160

d. There is little indication the domestic spying programs have been beneficial in the war against terror, while there is a significant risk     the programs may be affirmatively harming terrorism prosecutions     and tying up law enforcement resources 161

e. The NSA programs appear to have been implemented in a manner designed to stifle objections and dissent within the Administration. 163

2.  Continued Stonewalling of Congress and the American People. 165

Addendum 170

Analysis 177

Recommendations 194

Conclusion. 197

Endnotes 199

Legal Standards and Authorities 319

Major Reports 346


 

Introduction by Rep. John Conyers, Jr.

 

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 Vietnam know the damage that can result when our government misleads its citizens about war.  As one who was included on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” I am all too familiar with the specter of unlawful government intrusion.  In the face of these lessons, I believe it is imperative that we never lose our voice of dissent, regardless of the political pressure.  As Martin Luther King told us, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”  None of us should be bullied or intimidated when the executive branch charges that those who would criticize their actions are “aiding the terrorists” and “giving ammunition to America’s enemies,” or when they warn that “Americans need to watch what they say,” as this Administration has done.

 

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.


 

 

Summary

 

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:

 

·        Making False Statements to Congress, for example, saying you have learned Iraq is attempting to buy uranium from Niger, when you have been warned by the CIA that this is not the case.

 

·        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 the United States,” without obtaining a warrant.

 

·        The Stored Communications Act of 1986 and the Communications Act of 1934, for example, obtaining millions of U.S. customer telephone records without obtaining a subpoena or warrant, without customer consent, and outside of any applicable “emergency exceptions.”

 

·        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 Iraq; nor has there been an independent review of the pattern of cover-ups and political retribution by the Bush Administration against its critics, other than the very narrow and still ongoing inquiry of Special Counsel Fitzgerald into the outing of Valerie Plame.

 

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.


 

I.      The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution and Coverups in the Iraq War

 

A.     Chronology: Last Throes of Credibility

 

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[1]

         

The 2000 Presidential election focused on many issues relating to domestic and foreign policy.[2]  However, the topic of Iraq was virtually unmentioned in the campaign.  In a presidential debate with then-Vice President Al Gore, then-presidential candidate George W. Bush emphasized that he would be careful about using troops for Anation building@ purposes and that he would not launch a pre-emptive war because he believed the role of the military was to Aprevent war from happening in the first place.@[3]  At the same time, some future members of the Bush Administration, dubbed the neoconservatives, were waiting for war with Iraq.  High-ranking officials such as Dick Cheney, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz were part of this group.[4]

 

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush Administration began to hint at the coming attack on Iraq.  In his January 29, 2002 State of the Union Address, the President remarked that countries like Iraq, Iran and North Korea Aconstitute an axis of evil. . . . These regimes pose a grave and growing danger. . . . I will not wait on events, while dangers gather.@[5]  On June 1, 2002, during a speech at West Point, President Bush formally enunciated his doctrine of preemption that would be used against Iraq.[6]  It was also around this time that Vice President Cheney and his Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, began making a series of unusual trips to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to discuss Iraq intelligence.[7]

 

At the same time, the President=s public statements indicated a reluctance to use military force in Iraq.  He assured the public that he had not made up his mind to go to war with Iraq and that war was a last resort.[8]   However, contrary to these public statements, the Bush Administration formed the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) in August 2002 in an apparent effort to bolster public support for war with Iraq.[9]

 

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.[10]  In the days following the President=s speech to the United Nations, Iraq delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stating that it would allow the return of UN weapons inspectors Awithout conditions.@[11]  But on September 18, President Bush discredited Hussein=s offer to let UN inspectors back into Iraq as Ahis latest ploy.@[12]

 

As the Congressional vote to authorize force against Iraq approached, the President and Administration officials raised the specter of a nuclear attack by Iraq.[13] The President subsequently received from Congress on October 11, 2002, a joint resolution for the use of force in Iraq.[14]  Based on the intelligence findings in the National Intelligence Estimate provided to Congress by the Administration, the resolution stated that Iraq posed a Acontinuing threat@ to the United States by, among other things, Aactively seeking a nuclear weapons capability.@[15]

 

The President=s focus then moved on to the United Nations in an effort to persuade the UN to approve renewed weapons inspections in Iraq and sanctions for noncompliance.  Once again, the President asserted his reluctance to take military action.  Upon signing the resolution, the President stated:  AI have not ordered the use of force.  I hope the use of force will not become necessary.@[16]  On November 8, 2002, the United Nations Security Council adopted UN Resolution 1441, which stipulated that Iraq was required to readmit UN weapons inspectors under more stringent terms than required by previous UN Resolutions.[17] 

 

On January 27, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that the Bush Administration=s claim that aluminum tubes being delivered to Iraq were part of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program likely was false.[18]  In the wake of this claim being discredited, President Bush introduced a new piece of evidence to the public in his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, to demonstrate that Iraq was developing a nuclear arms program: AThe British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.@[19]

 

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 Iraq had Amobile production facilities@ for biological weapons.[20]  With its case to the United Nations delivered, for the first time and contrary to earlier claims that the Administration was reluctant to use force, the Administration publicly indicated its readiness and enthusiasm for going to war.  The question was no longer whether force would be used, but what - if any - difficulties would accompany the use of force.  Vice President Dick Cheney made an appearance on Meet the Press and stated that the war was not going to be long, costly or bloody because Awe will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.@[21]

 

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.[22]  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 Iraq have ended.@[23]  Immediately thereafter, it was self-evident that - despite the premature declaration of victory - numerous problems persisted with regard to the occupation.  This was not the only post-war mischaracterization of the truth by the Bush Administration.  Since then, they have been dogged by misstatements concerning the size and strength of the insurgency; the preparedness of Iraqi troops; the cost of the war; the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD); and the war=s impact on terrorism, among other things.[24]

 

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 Niger at the behest of the CIA to investigate the uranium claim, wrote in an op-ed piece that the intelligence concerning Niger=s alleged sale of uranium to Iraq was Atwisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.@[25]  The following day, the White House issued a rare retraction of the uranium allegations from the President=s State of the Union Address.[26]  Shortly thereafter, the identity of Wilson=s wife, a covert CIA agent, was revealed in the press through a Robert Novak column sourced to two officials in the Administration.[27]   Later in the year, Colin Powell also conceded that the information given in his February 5, 2003 speech before the UN Aappear[ed] not to be . . . that solid.@[28]  Capping these retractions were the findings of David Kay, the U.S. official responsible for the WMD search as the head of Iraq Survey Group, who concluded that Athere were not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction.  We don't find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on.@[29]

 

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 judgments about Iraq=s weapons of mass destruction.@[30]  However, this Commission was specifically prohibited from examining the use or manipulation of intelligence by policymakers.[31]

 

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.[32]  This report, entitled AIraq on the Record: the Bush Administration=s Public Statements on Iraq,@ details public statements made by senior Bush Administration officials regarding policy toward Iraq.  The report indicates that Afive officials made misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq in 125 public appearances.  The report and an accompanying database identify 237 specific misleading statements by the five officials.”[33]

 

On July 7, 2004, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reported that it had found numerous failures in the intelligence-gathering and analysis process.[34]  However, that review also was explicitly not intended to look into the Administration=s use of that wrong intelligence in selling the war.[35]  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.[36]

 

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.[37]  Since then, reports of other alleged violations of international law involving Iraqi prisoners have been reported by the media and human rights organizations.[38]

 

As the war continued into 2005, with U.S. casualties approaching 1,500, Iraq held elections on January 30.  The Administration heralded the elections as a symbol of freedom and as an event which validated the initial invasion.  By that point, however, the reason for attacking Iraq had shifted from an imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction; to combating terrorism after the September 11, attacks; to regime change; and eventually to promoting democracy, and to ensure that those lives lost were not lost in vain.[39] 

 

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.@[40]  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 U.S. plan to invade Iraq.  The DSM appear to document a pre-determination to go war with Iraq on the part of U.S. officials, and a manipulation of intelligence by such officials in order to justify the war.

 

The DSM generated significant media coverage in Great Britain in the lead up to the British elections, but initially received very little media attention in the United States.  However, a concerted effort to call attention to them by Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and a number of Members of Congress, grassroots groups, and Internet activists was ultimately successful.  On May 5, 2005, Congressman Conyers, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, along with 87 other Members of Congress (eventually 121), wrote to the President demanding answers to the allegations presented in the Minutes.[41]  In his letter, Representative Conyers questioned the President on whether there Awas there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to >fix= the intelligence and facts around the policy.@[42]

 

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.[43]  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.[44]  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,[45] 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.[46]  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.[47]  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.@[48]  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.@[49]

 

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 in Iraq.[50]  As discussed later in this Report, a long line of individuals were subject to other forms of sanctions and retribution by the Administration for exposing Administration wrongdoing concerning Iraq.

 

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.[51]  Patrick Fitzgerald has yet to indict other individuals but has publicly stated that his investigation would remain open to consider other matters.[52]  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.[53]

 

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.[54]  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.[55]

 

Today, more than half of all Americans believe the Administration Adeliberately misled@ the public on the reasons for going to war.[56]  The invasion appears to have increased and emboldened the terrorist movement.[57]  As of the date of this Report, United States casualties are in excess of 2,500 and the Iraq war costs approximately $6 billion a month and by some estimates the eventual cost could approach a trillion dollars.[58]

 

B.     Detailed Findings

 

1.    Determination to go to War before Congressional Authorization

 

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 Iraq.  Further evidence of that agreement to go to war exists by virtue of the Bush Administration=s marketing campaign to sell the war to the American people commencing in the fall of 2002, and the efforts to use the United Nations as a pretext to go to war later in 2002 and early in 2003.

 

Even though the Administration had begun planning an invasion of Iraq, the President and senior Administration officials continued to issue public denials regarding this effort, including misleading statements made before Congress:

 

$                   September 8, 2002:  Vice President Dick Cheney insists that Afirst of all, no decision's been made yet to launch a military operation.@[59]

 

$                   September 16, 2002:  US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld states "The President hasn't made a decision with respect to Iraq.  Didn't I say that earlier? I thought I said that."[60]

 

$                   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.@[61]

 

$                   October 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 Iraq.@[62]

 

$                   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.@[63]

 

$                   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.@[64]

 

$                   December 31, 2002:  AYou said we=re headed to war in Iraq C I don=t know why you say that. I hope we=re not headed to war in Iraq. I=m the person who gets to decide, not you.@[65]

 

$                   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.@[66]

 

$                   March 6, 2003:  AI've not made up our mind about military action.@[67]

 

$                   March 8, 2003:  AWe are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.  But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.@[68]

 

$                   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.@[69]

 

 

a.       Avenging the Father and Working with the Neo-Cons

 

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@[70]

 

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 Iraq, regardless of the provocation.  A key piece of the puzzle was revealed in a series of interviews between then-Governor Bush and writer and long-time family friend Mickey Herskowitz when, according to Herskowitz, Mr. Bush stated:

 

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 Kuwait and he wasted it. . . . If I have a chance to invade . . . if I had that much capital, I=m not going to waste it.=@[71]

 

According to Mr. Herskowitz, George W. Bush=s beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion ascribed to now-Vice President Dick Cheney:  AStart a small war.  Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.@[72]

 

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,[73] 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.@[74] 

 

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.[75]  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.@[76]  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.@[77]  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.[78]

 

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.@[79]

 

There is other evidence from within the highest levels of Bush=s cabinet of an early fixation on invading Iraq.  On 60 Minutes, former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O=Neill reported that as early as January 30, 2001, members of the Bush Administration were discussing plans for Saddam Hussein=s removal from power:  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.=@[80]

 

This fixation on war with Iraq would seem to explain why, from the very beginning of the Bush Administration, key officials were consulting with outsiders on possible replacements for Saddam Hussein and contemplating possible means of exploiting Iraqi oil fields.  For example, in February 2001, White House officials discussed a memo titled APlan for post-Saddam Iraq,@ which talks about troop requirements, establishing war crimes tribunals, and divvying up Iraq's oil wealth.[81]  During this time, Iraqi-born oil industry consultant Falah Aljibury was asked to interview would-be replacements for a new US-installed dictator.  As Mr. Aljibury stated, AIt is an invasion, but it will act like a coup.  The original plan was to liberate Iraq from the Saddamists and from the regime, to stabilize the country.@[82]  In March of 2001, a Pentagon document titled, AForeign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts@ was circulated.[83]  The document outlines areas of oil exploration and includes a table listing 30 countries that have interests in Iraq's oil industry.  The memorandum also includes the names of companies that have interests and the oil fields with which those interests are associated.[84]

 

b.       September 11 and its Aftermath:  Beating the Drums for War


 

“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.[85]

 

It was the September 11 tragedy that gave the President and members of his Administration the political opportunity to invade Iraq without provocation.  It was also in the immediate aftermath of September 11 that it became clear that the President had made up his mind to invade.  We know this now for several reasons B we have first-hand evidence concerning President Bush=s intentions; we have direct evidence concerning the intent of other senior members of his Administration; we have information provided through high-level Administration sources; and we have documentary and other evidence concerning specific actions taken by the United States military that brought our nation on the verge of war with Iraq before Congressional authorization was sought.

 

Donald Rumsfeld began pushing for retaliatory attacks against Iraq almost immediately after the September 11 attacks.  CBS News reported that at 2:40 p.m. on September 11, Secretary Rumsfeld stated:  A[I want the] best info fast.  Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time.  Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden].@[86]  Rumsfeld went on to say, A[g]o massive.  Sweep it all up.  Things related and not.@[87]  Spencer Ackerman and John Judis of The New Republic reported that, ADeputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz floated the idea that Iraq, with more than 20 years of inclusion on the State Department=s terror-sponsor list, be held immediately accountable.@[88]

 

The very first evidence regarding President Bush=s inclination to invade Iraq after the September 11 attacks occurred the very next day when he instructed National Security official Richard A. Clarke to go out of his way to find a link between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks.  Richard Clarke recounts the following in his book, AAgainst All Enemies:@

 

[On September 12th] I left the Video Conferencing Center and there, wandering alone around the situation room, was the president.  He looked like he wanted something to do.  He grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room.  >Look,= he told us, >I know you have a lot to do and all . . . but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything.  See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way.=  I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed.  ‘But, Mr. President, al Qaeda did this.’  >I know, I know, but . . . see if Saddam was involved.  Just look.  I want to know any shred’. . . .  ‘Look into Iraq, Saddam,= the President said testily and left us.  Lisa Gordon-Hagerty stared after him with her mouth hanging open.[89]

 

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 Iraq:

 

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.[90]

 

We have also received confirmation of the Bush Administration=s intention to invade Iraq after the September 11 attacks from various high-level Administration sources.  For example, General Wesley Clark revealed on Meet the Press that shortly after the September 11 attacks, the White House was asking people to link Saddam Hussein with the September 11 attacks.  Clark stated: 

 

[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.[91]

 

On September 17, 2001, President Bush signed a 22-page document marked ATOP SECRET@ that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism.  As one senior Administration official commented, the direction to the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq appeared Aalmost as a footnote.@[92] 

 

“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.”[93]  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 Princeton, a longtime associate of Cheney's and Wolfowitz's. Lewis told the meeting that America must respond to 9/11 with a show of strength: to do otherwise would be taken in the Islamic world as a sign of weakness-one it would be bound to exploit. At the same time, he said, America should support democratic reformers in the Middle East. "Such as," he said, turning to the second of Perle's guest speakers, "my friend here, Dr. Chalabi” . . . .  At the meeting Chalabi said that, although there was as yet no evidence linking Iraq to 9/11, failed states such as Saddam's were a breeding ground for terrorists, and Iraq, he told those at the meeting, possessed W.M.D.  During the later part of the second day, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld listened carefully to the debate. “Rumsfeld was getting confirmation of his own instincts . . .” Perle says. “He seemed neither surprised nor discomfited by the idea of taking action against Iraq.”[94]

 

The 9-11 Commission Report further notes that as early as September 20, 2001, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, suggested attacking Iraq in response to the September 11 attacks.  In a draft memo, Feith Aexpressed disappointment at the limited options immediately available in Afghanistan and the lack of ground options.  [He] suggested instead hitting terrorists outside the Middle East in the initial offensive, perhaps deliberately selecting a non-al Qaeda target like Iraq.@[95]  Also, on September 20, it is reported that President Bush told Prime Minister Blair of the need to respond militarily with Iraq.  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 Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.@[96] 

 

By late November 2001, the President essentially instructed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to develop an Iraq war plan, which Rumsfeld began to implement.  In a CBS News 60 Minutes interview about his book, APlan of Attack,@ Bob Woodward describes their meeting: 

 

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 Iraq?  What is the status of the war plan?  I want you to get on it.  I want you to keep it secret.@[97]

 

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 Iraq was part of an Aaxis of evil@ along with South Korea and Iran.[98]  Although Administration officials sought to temper the meaning of that reference, the President=s own speech writers have subsequently made it clear that the President was intending to target Iraq.  As James Mann recounts:  ADavid Frum, then one of Bush=s speech writers, later claimed that the original aim of the axis-of-evil speech was specifically to target Iraq.  Mark Gerson, Bush=s chief speech writer had asked Frum first to find a justification for war against Iraq, he wrote; later Iran was added, and finally North Korea as a seemingly casual afterthought.  Frum=s perspective reflected both his inexperience as a speech writer and also the thinking of neoconservatives within the administration, who were eager for a regime change in Iraq.@[99]  

 

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 Iraq.   First, in February 2002, Senator Bob Graham told the Council on Foreign Relations that a military commander had said to him:  ASenator, we have stopped fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan.  We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq.@[100]

 

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 Afghanistan war and war on terrorism provided the excuse, that it was done covertly, and that it was expensive . . . By the end of July, Bush had approved some 30 projects that would eventually cost $700 million. He discussed it with Nicholas E. Calio, the head of White House congressional relations. Congress, which is supposed to control the purse strings, had no real knowledge or involvement, had not even been notified that the Pentagon wanted to reprogram money.[101]

 

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.@[102]  The funds were diverted from appropriation laws specifically allocated for the war in Afghanistan.[103]

 

Third, Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker received similar confirmation from his Administration sources of the reallocation of intelligence assets from Afghanistan to Iraq in preparation for an invasion:  AThe 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 Persian Gulf.  Linguists and special operatives were abruptly reassigned, and several ongoing anti-terrorism intelligence programs were curtailed.@[104] 

 

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 U.S. officials said Tuesday.@[105] 

 

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 Persian Gulf. . . . Chalabi'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.[106] 

 

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.@[107]  At the time, Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators and discussing options for dealing with Iraq through the United Nations or other peaceful means.  However, a source reported ABush wasn't interested.  He waved his hand dismissively . . . and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase.  The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile.@[108]

 

By late March 2002, Vice President Cheney was telling his fellow Republicans that a decision to invade Iraq had been made: 

 

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 U.S. military strike against Iraq. . . .  Before he spoke, he said no one should repeat what he said, and Senators and staff members promptly put down their pens and pencils. Then he gave them some surprising news.  The question was no longer if the U.S. would attack Iraq, he said. The only question was when.@[109] 

 

In his book, Bob Woodward describes Cheney as a Apowerful, steamrolling force obsessed with Saddam and taking him out.@[110]

 

By July of 2002, Condoleezza Rice was offering further confirmation that President Bush=s mind was made up regarding a decision to invade Iraq.  At this time, State Department Director of Policy Planning Richard N. Haass held a meeting with Rice and asked if they should discuss Iraq.  Rice said, ADon=t bother.  The president has made a decision.@[111] 

 

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 AIraq goals, objectives and strategy.@[112]  The document cites far‑reaching goals and the study refers to "some unstated objectives" including installing a pro‑American government in Iraq and using it to influence events in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iran.[113]

 

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 U.S. was actually engaging in acts of war by May 2002.  On April 28, 2002, The New York Times wrote:  AThe Bush administration, in developing a potential approach for toppling President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, is concentrating its attention on a major air campaign and ground invasion, with initial estimates contemplating the use of 70,000 to 250,000 troops. . . . Senior officials now acknowledge that any offensive would probably be delayed until early next year, allowing time to create the right military, economic and diplomatic conditions.@[114]

 

Bombing activity designed to increase military pressure on Iraq appears to have commenced by May 2002, and intensified in August 2002, following a meeting of the National Security Council.[115]  The Sunday London Times reported that, A[b]y the end of August [2002] the raids had become a full air offensive.@[116]  As former veteran CIA intelligence officer Ray McGovern testified:

 

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.[117]

 

On May 27, 2002, a former US Air Force combat veteran Tim Goodrich told the World Tribunal on Iraq jury in Istanbul, Turkey:  AWe were dropping bombs then, and I saw bombing intensify.  All the documents coming out now, the Downing Street Memo and others, confirm what I had witnessed in Iraq.  The war had already begun while our leaders were telling us that they were going to try all diplomatic options first.@[118]  “Tommy Franks, the allied commander, has since admitted that this operation was designed to ‘degrade’ Iraqi air defenses in the same way as the air attacks that began the 1991 Gulf war.”[119]

 

The United States and Britain initially attempted to justify these raids by claiming that “the rise in air attacks was in response to Iraqi attempts to shoot down allied aircraft.”[120]  However, in July 2005, in response to British MP Sir Menzies Campbell=s request for data, the British Ministry of Defence released figures that would indicate that the true reason for the raids was to put pressure on the Iraqis.[121]  The data shows that in Athe first seven months of 2001 the allies recorded a total of 370 >provocations= by the Iraqis against allied aircraft.  But in the seven months between October 2001 and May 2002 there were just 32.@[122]  The records show that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did in the whole of 2001.[123] 

 

The Asecret air war@ was also confirmed by Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley, who said that Ain 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 >carefully selected targets= before the war officially started.@[124]  Between March and November 2002, coalition forces attacked Iraqi installations with 253,000 pounds of bombs.  In June 2002 specifically, forces bombed Iraq with 20,800 pounds of munitions; in September 2002, the tonnage amounted to 109,200 pounds of bombs.[125]

 

c.       The Downing Street Minutes and Documentary Evidence of an Agreement to go to War

 

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 Iraq was not a foregone conclusion, even as exacting plans for war were being laid.  This section of the Report includes a description of each of the critical elements of these documents as they relate to that determination to go to war by the spring and summer of 2002 and details how the Downing Street Minutes have been confirmed and corroborated as accurate.  (The Downing Street Minutes also include critical documentary evidence showing Bush and Blair Administration plans concerning “marketing@ the war to the public and the United Nations, as well as the manipulation of intelligence, both of which are discussed later in this Report.)

 

i.   Description and Analysis of Various Downing Street Minutes Materials

 

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 Downing Street Minutes[126]

 

Iraq: Options Paper (March 8, 2002)

 

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 US and lays out a plan by which Iraq would reject a UN ultimatum, paving the way to war. 

 

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.@[127]  The document also states, "[t]he U.S. has lost confidence in containment.  Some in government want Saddam removed. The success of Operation Enduring Freedom [the military code name for the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan], distrust of UN sanctions and inspection regimes, and unfinished business from 1991 are all factors.@[128]

 

In this document, we learn of a nascent plan that the rejection of United Nations weapons inspectors by Iraq would provide the needed justification for war:

 

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]. . .[129]

 

Iraq: Legal Background Paper (Early March 2002)

 

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 intervention in Iraq.  The most significant aspect of this document is its revelation that the British government did not agree with the Bush Administration=s belief that any State can enforce United Nations resolutions.  The Bush Administration ultimately relied on this view to justify preemptive war one year later. 

 

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 United States has Aa rather different view: they maintain that the assessment of breach is for individual member States.  We are not aware of any other State which supports this view.@[130]  The paper also notes that Afor the exercise of the right of self-defence there must be more than >a threat.= There has to be an armed attack actual or imminent.@[131] 

 

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 Iraq and again emphasizes how an ultimatum to Iraq on weapons inspectors could be helpful politically.  

 

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?[132]

 

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 US was conscious of the international framework, and the insistence of many countries on the need for a legal base.  Renwed refused [sic] by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument.@[133]

 

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.@[134]

 

The Meyer Memo (March 18, 2002)

 

In this memo from Christopher Meyer, the British Ambassador in Washington, to David Manning, we first learn that the British had agreed to join the Bush Administration in backing regime change through military action.  The British also suggest giving Hussein an ultimatum that he would reject as a way of justifying war.  In the memo, the Ambassador describes a lunch he recently had with Paul Wolfowitz, then US Deputy Secretary of Defense:

 

On Iraq I opened by sticking very closely to the script that you used with Condi Rice last week.  We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option.  It would be a tough sell for us domestically, and probably tougher elsewhere in Europe.  The US could go it alone if it wanted to. But if it wanted to act with partners, there had to be a strategy for building support for military action against Saddam.  I then went through the need to wrongnfoot [sic] Saddam on the inspectors and the UN SCRs [Security Council Resolutions] and the critical importance of the MEPP [Middle East Peace Process] as an integral part of the anti-Saddam strategy. If all this could be accomplished skilfully, we were fairly confident that a number of countries would come on board.[135]

 

Meyer goes on to note that AWolfowitz said that it was absurd to deny the link between terrorism and Saddam.@[136]  Meyer told Wolfowitz that Aif the UK were to join the US in any operation against Saddam, we would have to be able to take a critical mass of parliamentary and public opinion with us.@[137]

 

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 Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.@[138]  This statement of intent by President Bush with regard to Iraq was made at a private White House dinner between the leaders on September 20, 2001.

 

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 Iraq possessing dangerous WMD that could target the United States. 

 

In the memo, Ricketts expressed relief at the postponement of the publication of a dossier that detailed the limited state of Iraq=s weapons program:  AMy meeting yesterday showed that there is more work to do to ensuer [sic] that the figures are accurate and consistent with those of the U.S.@[139]  Ricketts goes on to argue that Aeven the best survey of Iraq's WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years on the nuclear, missile or CW/BW [chemical weapons/biological weapons] fronts: the programmes are extremely worrying but have not, as far as we know, been stepped up.@[140]

 

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.@[141]

 

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.[142]  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 Iraq.  Straw emphasizes the need for a legal justification for military action, and the fact that Awe have a long way to go@ to convince the public that regime change is acceptable.[143] 

 

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 Iraq's WMD capacity: but the latter has to be the goal.[144]

 

Echoing the advice of Peter Ricketts, Straw notes that A[o]bjectively, the threat from Iraq has not worsened as a result of 11 September.@[145]  Straw cautions Blair that A[t]he rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few@ and that, while the U.S. has Aassumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq=s WMD threat,@ virtually no assessment Ahas satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.@[146]  Straw also writes to Blair: AI believe that a demand for the unfettered readmission of weapons inspectors is essential, in terms of public explanation, and in terms of legal sanction for any subsequent military action.@[147]

 

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 Crawford, Texas and again confirms US determination to go to war. 

 

The memo again highlights the need to make an ultimatum for Hussein that he would reject, and expresses concern about US preparedness for occupying Iraq:

 

[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 US military plans are virtually silent on this point.[148]

 

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.@[149]  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 . . .@[150]

 

The Downing Street Minutes (July 23, 2002)

 

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 Iraq invasion of March 2003, and it is clear to those attending that President Bush intends to remove Saddam Hussein from power by force.  The minutes run through military options and then consider a political strategy by which an appeal for support would be positively received by the public.  They again suggest that President Bush issue an ultimatum for Saddam to allow back United Nations weapons inspectors, and that this tactic would help to make the use of force legal.  Tony Blair is quoted as saying that under these conditions the British public would support regime change.[151]

 

Perhaps the most important passage in the July 23 Minutes is a report of a recent visit to Washington by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI-6 and known in official terminology as AC@:

 

C reported on his recent talks in Washington.  There was a perceptible shift in attitude.  Military action was now seen as inevitable.  Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.  But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.  The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime=s record.  There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.[152]

 

The Minutes also record British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying, Athe U.S. had already begun >spikes of activity= to put pressure on the regime.@[153]  In addition, Foreign Secretary Straw articulates his idea for justifying an attack in light of the fact that Saddam was not threatening to attack his neighbors and his weapons of mass destruction program was less extensive than those of a number of other countries:  AWe 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 for the use of force.@[154]

 

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."[155]  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."[156] In other words, Iraq was not attacking the United States or the United Kingdom, so the leaders could not claim to be acting in self-defense; nor was Iraq's leadership in the process of committing genocide, so the United States and the United Kingdom could not claim to be invading for humanitarian reasons.  This left Security Council authorization as the only conceivable legal justification for war.

 

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[157]

 

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.@[158]

 

ii.      Confirmation and Corroboration of Downing Street Minutes Materials

 

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.[159]

 

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 aggression on Iraq was based on a lie of historic proportions and was blatantly unnecessary.  The so-called Downing Street Memo dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected, the leadership of his [sic] country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence.  Iraq was no threat to the United States of America, and the devastating sanctions and bombing against the Iraqis were working.@[160] 

 

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 US official told Knight Ridder that the Downing Street Minutes were Aan absolutely accurate description of what transpired.@[161]  Two senior British officials, who asked not to be further identified because of the sensitivity of the material, told Newsweek in separate interviews that they had no reason to question the authenticity of the Downing Street Minutes.[162]

 

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 U.S. military invaded Iraq and follow-up aspects of the Downing Street Minutes bear out that this decision was made well in advance of the war.  In addition to the wealth of verification in Sections III(A)(1), (2), and (4) of this Report, and in particular as noted in the previous section, we know that in early August 2002, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair spoke by telephone.  It was a short call, about 15 minutes.  According to a White House official who has studied the transcript of the phone call, AThe way it read was that, come what may, Saddam was going to go; they said they were going forward, they were going to take out the regime, and they were doing the right thing.  Blair did not need any convincing.  There was no >come on Tony, we've got to get you on board.=  I remember reading it then and thinking, O.K., now I know what we're going to be doing for the next year.@[163]  Before the call, this official says, he had the impression that the probability of invasion was high, but still below 100 percent.  Afterward, he says, Ait was a done deal.@[164]

 

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.@[165]

 

·        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.@[166]

 

·        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.@[167]  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.@[168]

 

·        AThere was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action.@

 

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.@[169]  As the war unfolded, numerous gaps in planning became apparent.

 

·        The US had already begun Aspikes of activity@ to put pressure on the regime.

 

The statement that the US had already begun Aspikes of activity@ to pressure Iraq has been subsequently confirmed by numerous accounts (see below).  As reported in the Sunday London Times, in May 2002, with a conditional agreement in place with Britain for war, the US and UK began to conduct a bombing campaign in Iraq described by British and US officials as Aspikes of activity@ designed to put pressure on the Iraqi regime.[170]  The bombing campaign was initiated a full ten months before the Bush Administration determined that all diplomatic means had been exhausted and six months before Congressional authorization for the use of force.[171]

 

·        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.@[172]

 

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 U.S. and Britain asked for UN authorization to demand the reintroduction of weapons inspectors, which they received on November 8, 2002. 

 

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, Texas in April 2002. 

 

This agreement has been corroborated by numerous sources, including British newspapers The Guardian[173] and The Daily Telegraph.[174] 

 

·        US plans assume, at a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia.

 

This plan came to fruition.  Akrotiri, the British air base in Cyprus, has been used extensively since the beginning of the war as a refueling and resupply base for U.S. and British aircraft and warships.[175]  At the start of the war, the US also used the base in Diego Garcia.[176]

 

·        UK contribution could include deployment of a Division (i.e. Gulf War-sized contribution plus naval and air forces) to making available bases. 

 

Britain did provide a sizable troop contribution, with over 11,000 troops currently in Iraq.[177]

 

·        An international coalition is necessary to provide military platform and desirable for political purposes, even though this coalition was made up of small powers, since the US would probably not receive the support of the major powers for UN authorization. 

 

The US ended up gathering a number of small powers to form an Ainternational coalition,@ including, among others, Armenia, Bulgaria, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, and Poland.[178]

 

·        ATime will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein.  There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of Parliament.  An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic World and the wider international community.@[179] 

 

The British Administration engaged in such a marketing campaign, with the Prime Minister persuading the Parliament and public of the case for war.[180]

 

·        AThe optimal times to start action are in early spring.@  

 

The war began on March 20, 2003, the first day of spring.

 

d.       Manipulating Public Opinion

 

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.[181]  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 U.S. marketing campaign, but it too, was planning to engage in such an effort.  Thus, the Cabinet Officer Paper notes that ministers are planning to A[a]gree to the establishment of an ad hoc group of officials under Cabinet Office Chairmanship to consider the development of an information campaign to be agreed with the U.S.@[182]

 

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.[183]

 

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 Iraq war.  The group met weekly in the White House Situation Room.  Among its participants were Karl Rove; Karen Hughes; Mary Matalin; James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley; and Scooter Libby.[184]  According to The Washington Post, Athe escalation of nuclear rhetoric a year ago, including the introduction of the term >mushroom cloud= into the debate, coincided with the formation of a White House Iraq Group.@[185]  It was reportedly created to persuade the public, the Congress and allies of the need to invade Iraq.[186]

 

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.=@[187]  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.@[188]

 

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 August.@[189]  It is quite telling that he referred to their Iraq war initiative as a Aproduct.@  Another senior Administration official made the following admission when asked why our nation really went to war: AAs it was, the administration took what looked like the path of least resistance in making its public case for the war: WMD and intelligence links with Al Qaeda. If the public read too much into those links and thought Saddam had a hand in September 11, so much the better.@[190]

 

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, proved Iraq=s pursuit of nuclear weapons.@[191]

 

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.[192]

 

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 Iraq=s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. It stated boldly and without caveats in the first paragraph that Baghdad Ahas chemical and biological weapons@ and Aif left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade.@ If Iraq obtains sufficient weapons-grade material from abroad, the white paper further warned, Baghdad could make a nuclear weapon Awithin a year.@  To support its conclusions about an Iraqi nuclear program, it prominently cited, among other factors, Iraq=s Aaggressive attempts@ to purchase high-strength aluminum tubesCan effort that Miller and her colleague Michael Gordon had first written about in an influential front-page story for the New York Times the previous September [apparently based on a leak from Scooter Libby]. . . .  But . . .  the more detailed version of the NIE was hardly stronger.  In fact, it revealed for the first time, in the very first paragraphCright after the sentence that Aif left unchecked, [Iraq] probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade@Cthe fact that the State Department=s intelligence arm, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), had an Aalternative view@ of the matter.[193]

 

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.[194]

 

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 Iraq's allegedly "reconstituted" nuclear weapons program. Wilkinson gave prominent place to the claim that Iraq "sought uranium oxide, an essential ingredient in the enrichment process, from Africa." That claim, along with repeated use of the "mushroom cloud" image by top officials beginning in September, became the emotional heart of the case against Iraq.  The uranium claims had never been significant to career analysts -- Iraq had plenty already and lacked the means to enrich it. But the allegations proved irresistible to the White House Iraq Group, which devised the war's communications strategy and included Libby among its members. Every layman understood the connection between uranium and the bomb, participants in the group said in interviews at the time, and it was the easiest way for the Bush administration to raise alarms.[195]

 

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.@[196]  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."[197] 

 

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 23 Downing Street meeting that war=s timing would be premised on United States elections.  According to the British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, no decisions had been taken, but Athe most likely timing in U.S. minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the U.S. Congressional elections.@[198]  Although the eventual date slipped because of delays regarding UN approval, it is quite telling that the British thought that military engagement would commence at such a politically opportunistic time.  Former United States Ambassador Raphael, who was involved in Iraq policy, acknowledged much of the timing was premised on United States elections when he said that the Administration was Anot prepared@ when it invaded Iraq due to Aclear political pressure, election driven and calendar driven.@[199]

 

Also, on September 12, 2002, President Bush gave a speech at the United Nations in which he declared that AIraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance.@[200] Simultaneous with Bush=s United Nations speech, the Which House released a report, AA Decade of Deception and Defiance,@ seeking to set forth evidence that Iraq was violating bans on possessing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.[201]

 

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?@[202]

 

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.[203]  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 Iraq.@[204]  In this regard, another Administration official added, AI do believe certain people have grown theological about this.  It=s almost a religion B that it will be the end of our society if we don=t take action now.@[205]

 

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 Africa.@[206]  Again, in retrospect, this uranium reference appears to have been part and parcel of the pre-meditated marketing plan launched earlier that summer.  It has been reported that one of the speech writers conceded the phrase=s marketing impact:  AFor a speech writer, uranium was valuable because anyone could see its connection to an atomic bomb.@[207]

 

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.@[208] 

 

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@[209]  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 Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.@[210]

 

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 Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, than planning for the aftermath. . . .  In an ironic twist, the policy community was receptive to technical intelligence (the weapons program), where the analysis was wrong, but apparently paid little attention to intelligence on cultural and political issues (post-Saddam Iraq), where the analysis was right.@[211]

 

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 Iraq=s many ethnic groups, and he warned of increased terror.  Rice pooh-poohed his every objection.  AEverything was dismissed,@ says a French diplomat, recalling Rice=s reaction. AThere is terror already in the world and the rest of the Arab world won=t feel resentment.  If it does, the leaders of the Arab world will support the administration.@ . . .  AEvery good reason not to go to war was irrelevant." It was clear, says this diplomat, >that the decision to go to war was taken.=@[212]

 

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.=@[213]

 

State Department officials warned not only about the lack of planning for the occupation, but also of future human rights abuses in Iraq.  On February 7, 2003, one month before the U.S. invasion, three State Department bureau chiefs prepared a secret memo for their superior and cited Aserious planning gaps for post-conflict public security and humanitarian assistance.@[214]  The State Department officials noted that the military was reluctant Ato take on >policing= roles@ in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.[215]  The three officials also warned that Aa failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally.@[216]  Again, these risks were ignored by the Bush Administration=s intent on developing the strongest possible case for war.

 

The Downing Street Minutes also indicate that the United Kingdom had sought to warn the Bush Administration of the perils of post-war occupancy.  In the spring of 2002, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote, Awe have a long way to go to convince [the Bush Administration] as to . . . whether the consequence of military action really would be a compliant law abiding replacement government.@[217]

 

There is also considerable evidence indicating that the Bush Administration went into armed conflict in Iraq without a real or viable plan for the occupation.  United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in writing a memo to Prime Minister Blair concerning his upcoming April 2002 trip to Crawford, Texas, expressed alarm at the Bush Administration=s failure to consider these issues.  He wrote:

 

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 U.S. have assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq=s [weapons of mass destruction] threat.  But no one has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured, and how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be better.[218]

 

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 after?@[219]  Later on in the memo, Manning again raises questions regarding the Bush Administration=s preparedness for a post-occupation of Iraq noting, AI think there is a real risk that the Administration underestimates the difficulties.  They may agree that failure isn=t an option, but this does not mean that they will avoid it.  Will the Sunni majority really respond to an uprising led by Kurds and Shias?  Will Americans really put in enough ground troops to do the job if the Kurdish/Shi=ite stratagem fails?@[220]

 

Perhaps most famously, in the Downing Street Minutes, when AC,@ (Sir Richard Dearlove) reported on his recent discussions in Washington, he discerned that the Bush Administration was not focused on post-occupation issues.  Mr. Dearlove noted, A[t]here was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.@[221]  While the British at least seemed concerned about the risks of Anation building,@ their impression was that the Bush Administration was blithely ignoring these matters.  Further, as detailed in the Cabinet Office Paper, A[a] post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise.  As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point.@[222]

 

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 Iraq would encourage the spread of democracy in the region.  The paper found that in the unlikely event a democracy did take root in Iraq, it would likely result in an Islamic-controlled government antipathetic to the United States.[223]

 

e.       Using the United Nations as a Pretext for War

 

The United States was Aready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament.@

 

----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.@[224]

 

The manipulation and marketing of the Iraq war by the Bush Administration extended beyond domestic opinion to include the United Nations as well.  Our review indicates that the very concept of seeking UN resolutions was merely to provide an ultimatum that Iraq would reject.  Moreover, from the time the Bush Administration committed to obtaining United Nations approval in September 2002, it engaged in a series of actions intended to pursue military action regardless of the efficacy of the United Nations Security Council process. 

 

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 Hamptons to "discreetly explore [an] ultimatum [given to Saddam Hussein]" with Secretary of State Powell.[225]  As Bob Woodward notes in his book APlan of Attack,@ Mr. Straw told the Secretary, "If you are really thinking about war and you want us Brits to be a player, we cannot be unless you go to the United Nations.@[226]

 

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.=[227]

 

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 UK favored trying to make international institutions work before resorting to force. Going through the UN would be a large and much-needed plus.@[228]  The President told Blair that he had decided "to go to the UN" and the Prime Minister, "was relieved."[229] After the session with Blair, Bush walked into a conference room and told the British officials gathered there that Ayour man has got cojones.@[230]  This particular conference with Blair would be known, Bush declared, as "the cojones meeting."[231]

 

Five days later, on September 12, 2002, President Bush announced that the United States would Awork with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions.@[232]  It is notable that the President envisaged more than one resolution.  Almost immediately, however, the Bush Administration began to distant itself from any suggestion that the reintroduction of weapons inspectors would work B the purported purpose of the resolutions: 

 

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 Iraq would allow inspectors access "without conditions." . . .  White House staffers flew into a rage. In their view Annan was giving Saddam the kind of wiggle room that would allow him to avert military action. Reportedly, later that night, Powell and Rice, in a conference call, chewed out Annan for taking matters into his own hands. . . . [r]elations between the U.N. leadership and the White House deteriorated in the following days as word of American military preparations seeped out . . .  Bush's U.N. strategy was becoming clear: the goal was not to get Saddam to disarm through peaceful means, but rather to get a U.N. stamp of approval for American military action as quickly as possible.  Indeed, Bush's speech before the General Assembly was soon seen by the delegates for what it was: a tell-'em-what-they-want-to-hear spiel even though you don't believe it.[233]

 

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."[234] The same day, President Bush threatened that, "if the United Nations Security Council won't deal with the problem, the United States and some of our friends will."[235]  Richard Perle attacked Hans Blix by saying Aif it were up to me, on the strength of his previous record, I wouldn=t have chosen Hans Blix.[236]

 

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 Iraq fail to comply with strict new inspections.[237]  Hans Blix, chief inspector of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (AUNMOVIC@) remarked: AIt was so remote from reality . . . [i]t was written by someone who didn't understand how (inspections) function.@[238]  Lacking the votes, the Bush Administration was forced to abandon the idea of an Aautomatic trigger,@ and by November 8, a revised resolution was approved.  As Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, acknowledged:  AWe heard loud and clear during the negotiations about >automaticity= and >hidden triggers=C the concerns that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action. . . . Let me be equally clear. . . . There is no >automaticity= in this Resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required.@[239]

 

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, United States officials made it clear that the Bush Administration would invade Iraq regardless of the outcome of the recently authorized weapons inspection process.  In late November, Richard Perle, a member of the Defense Policy Board, attended a meeting on global security with members of the British Parliament.  At one point he argued that the weapons inspection team might be unable to find Saddam's arsenal of banned weapons because they are so well hidden.  According to the London Mirror, he then states that the US would Aattack Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons,@ admitting that a "clean bill of health" from UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.[240]

 

          On December 7, 2002, the Iraqis issued a 12,000-page document, accounting for the state of Iraq=s weapons programs.  The Bush Administration immediately asserted that the report constituted a "material breach,"[241] zeroing in on the charge that the Iraqi declaration failed to mention the now-discredited theory that Iraq was attempting to acquire uranium from Niger.[242] Vice President Cheney went so far as to inform Hans Blix that the purpose of the inspectors was to find WMD, and that war was coming in any event.  Blix recounted that Cheney:

 

stated the position that inspections, if they do not give results, cannot go on forever, and said the U.S. was Aready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament.@ A pretty straight way, I thought, of saying that if we did not soon find the weapons of mass destruction that the U.S. was convinced Iraq possessed (though they did not know where), the U.S. would be ready to say that the inspectors were useless and embark on disarmament by other means.[243] 

 

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 the United States to share its intelligence information with inspectors. AOf course we would like to have as much information from any member state as to evidence they may have on weapons of mass destruction, and, in particular, sites,@ he says.[244]  ABecause we are inspectors, we can go to sites. They may be listening to what's going on and they may have lots of other sources of information. But we can go to the sites legitimately and legally.@[245]  As observed in The New York Times: AOn one hand, administration officials are pressing him to work faster and send out more inspectors to more places to undermine Baghdad's ability to conceal any hidden programs. At the same time, Washington has been holding back its intelligence, waiting to see what Iraq will say in its declaration.@[246]

 

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.@[247]

 

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 Vienna provided the IAEA with an oral briefing while Jacques Baute was en route to New York, leaving no printed material with the nuclear inspectors.  As IAEA officials recount, an astonished Baute told his aides, AThat won=t do.  I want the actual documentary evidence.@  He had to register his complaints through a United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) channel before receiving the documents the day Powell spoke.  It was an incident that would characterize America=s intelligence-sharing with the IAEA.[248]

 

By late January, the UN was not finding any evidence that Iraq had reinitiated its nuclear program, which in turn was leading to a furor in the Bush Administration.  Thus on January 27, the UN issued a press release regarding Iraq's response to Resolution 1441 and stated that Ait would appear that Iraq had decided in principle to provide cooperation on substance in order to complete the disarmament task through inspection.@[249] Although there were some outstanding issues and questions concerning chemical and biological weapons, the press release stated that the UN weapons inspectors had reported that after 60 days of inspections with a total of 139 inspections at 106 locations, they had found Ano evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons programme@ and "no prohibited nuclear activities had been identified"[250]

 

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.@[251]  President Bush told Rice that the Apressure isn't holding together.@  President Bush also commented about the antiwar protests in the United States and Europe.[252]

 

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 threatening the United States.

 

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 Iraq was finally taking steps toward real cooperation with the inspectors, allowing them to enter Iraqi presidential palaces, among other previously proscribed sites.@[253]   

 

On February 24, 2003, the Bush Administration opted to propose the long-awaited Asecond resolution@ authorizing war.[254]  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@[255] 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).@[256]  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.@[257]

 

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 U.S. tactics to persuade them to fall in line, including threats such as receiving the Aunpleasant economic consequences of standing up to the US.@[258]

 

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.[259]  Thus, the Bush Administration began to argue that the invasion would be pursuant to a Security Council Resolution.[260]  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.[261] 

 

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 U.K. Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, expressed this view to Prime Minister Blair days before the invasion of Iraq.[262]  With respect to a violation of Resolution 687, which would trigger the use of force contemplated in 678, the British authorities cited in the March 2002 Legal Background Paper included in the Downing Street Minutes note that the United States is the only country in the world that was claiming that an explicit authorization from the U.N. to enforce U.N. resolutions by invading Iraq was not needed:  AAs the cease-fire was proclaimed by the Council in 687 (1991), it is for the Council to assess whether any such breach of those obligations has occurred . . .[t]he US have a rather different view: they maintain that the assessment of breach is for individual member States. We are not aware of any other State which supports this view.@[263] 

 

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 London, he admitted that Ainternational law . . . would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone.@[264]

 

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 action,[265] 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 Britain, was that authority to use force existed from the Acombined effects@ of UN Security Council Resolutions.[266] 

 

This abrupt about face led to a legal storm in the United Kingdom and a wave of resignations.[267]  As Ray McGovern testified at a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes, the British documents on this point Ashow a panic, a veritable panic among British lawyers, and I think perhaps you can all identify with this.  They were befuddled.  The decision had been made for war.  Their prime minister had opted on to this scheme and they were trying to figure out a way how it could be legally justified.@[268]

 

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.@[269]  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.@ [270]  She also noted:

 

I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorization given in SCR 678. I do not need to set out my reasoning; you are aware of it.  My views accord with the advice that has been given consistently in this office before and after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1441 and with what the attorney general gave us to understand was his view prior to his letter of 7 March. (The view expressed in that letter has of course changed again into what is now the official line.).[271]

 

2.     Misstating and Manipulating the Intelligence to Justify Pre-emptive War

 

AThere was a great deal of pressure to find a reason to go to war with Iraq. And the pressure was not just subtle; it was blatant . . . [the official=s boss] called a meeting and gave them their marching orders.  And he said, AYou know what?  If Bush wants to go to war, it=s your job to give him a reason to do so.@

 

-----Fall/Winter, 2001, a CIA official working on WMD[272]

 

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 Iraq.  In particular, we found that members of the Bush Administration misstated, overstated and manipulated intelligence with regard to linkages between Iraq and Al Qaeda; the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iraq; the acquisition of aluminum tubes to be used as uranium centrifuges; and the acquisition of uranium from Niger.  In this section, we will generally detail the techniques utilized by the Administration to manipulate intelligence, as well as identify several specific examples of such manipulation.

 

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.[273]

 

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.@[274]  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.[275]

 

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.@[276] 

 

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.@[277]

 

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.@[278]  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.@[279] 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.@[280]

 

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 Iraq.=  And the pressure was not just subtle; it was blatant. At one point in January 2003, the person's boss called a meeting and gave them their marching orders. AAnd he said, >You know what‑if Bush wants to go to war, it's your job to give him a reason to do so= . . . He said it at the weekly office meeting.  And I just remember saying, >This is something that the American public, if they ever knew, would be outraged= . . . He said it to about fifty people.  And it's funny because everyone still talks about that ‑ >Remember when [he] said that.=@[281]

 

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.=@[282]  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.=@[283]  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 culled from U.S. intelligence those assessments that supported its position and omitted those that did not.  The administration ignored, and even suppressed, disagreement within the intelligence agencies and pressured the CIA to reaffirm its preferred version of the Iraqi threat.@[284]

 

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.@[285]

 

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.@[286]

 

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.@[287]  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.@[288]

 

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.[289]  He further contended that Asenior officials made statements which I can only describe as dishonest.@[290]  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 Iraq threat.  I=m not sure I can think of a worse act against the people in a democracy than a president distorting critical classified information.@[291] 

 

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.[292]

 

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.[293]

 

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 Virginia, during which they placed even greater pressure on individual analysts to develop conclusions supporting a decision to go to war.  Numerous media outlets confirmed that these visits occurred, with The Washington Post reporting as follows: 

 

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.[294]

 

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 Iraq.  There was Aa kind of radical pressure@ throughout 2002 and on into 2003, one former official said.[295]  At a hearing convened by Representative Conyers, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern testified: ABut I had never known fixing to include the Vice President abrogating the right to turn a key piece of intelligence on its head.  Nor had I in all those years ever known a sitting Vice President to make multiple visits to CIA headquarters to make sure the fix was in, and this is just one example.@[296]

 

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.@[297]  Powell himself junked much of what the CIA had given him to read, reportedly calling it Abull****.@[298]

 

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.=[299]

 

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.