October 05, 2005

FactCheck.org Finds Word-Twisting and Statements Taken Out of Context In Anti-War Ad By MoveOn.org and Others

According to FactCheck.org, a non-partisan and non-profit group that reviews the veracity of claims made by politicians and political groups, finds that a recent ad prepared by anti-war groups including MoveOn.org was misleading. The ad, which quotes Bush administration officials, takes many statements of such officials out of context and is misleading. Here are some selected excerpts:

An anti-war coalition of mostly liberal groups ran a newspaper ad quoting six alleged lies about Iraq by President Bush and others. But, like movie blurbs, the quotes sometimes look different when read in full context. And while much of what the ad calls lies was indeed wrong, there's evidence that the President and his advisers believed the falsehoods at the time.

The ad carried a bold-faced headline saying "They Lied," and six brief quotes from Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Rice (now Secretary of State). It also carried a list of American military personnel killed in Iraq, along with the words "They Died."The ad appeared Sept. 22 in USA Today and more than a dozen other newspapers. The sponsor, "Win Without Wars," is a coalition made up of groups including MoveOn.org Political Action, and using Fenton Communications, the same media consultant used by MoveOn.org.

The brief quotes all seem starkly false in hindsight. But some are a bit too stark – they look a bit different when read in full context. Furthermore, calling them lies suggests Bush and his advisers knew they were wrong at the time. And a bipartisan commission concluded earlier this year that what the Bush administration told the world about Iraqi weapons – while tragically mistaken – was based on faulty intelligence....

The ad quotes Bush as saying, "There's no question Saddam Hussein had al-Qaeda ties." Bush said that September 17, 2003, after months of fruitless searching for evidence of WMD's in Iraq.

However, the full quote shows Bush also made clear that he was not claiming that Saddam had any connection to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In fact, he was knocking down a suggestion made four days earlier by Vice President Cheney, who said on NBC's Meet The Press that it is "not surprising that people make that connection" when asked why so many Americans believed Saddam was involved in the attacks.

Looking back, it is now clear that much of what is quoted in this ad was, even in context, false or misleading. To say Bush and the others "lied," however, requires evidence that they knew the intelligence they were getting was wrong. The unanimous finding of the Intelligence Commission argues against that idea.

Read it all.

Do I think Bush lied? No. In order for his claims that Sadaam had WMD's to have been lies, Bush would have had to know that Sadaam, in fact, had no such WMD's and continued to make claims that he knew were false. Everyone - Republicans, Democrats, France, Germany, Russia, the U.N., etc. -believed that Sadaam had WMD's and that Sadaam was not complying with the U.N. inspection requirements.
The Democrats have rather conveniently forgotten (or at least would like the voters to forget) that the Iraq war was authorized by a Congressional resolution and that resolution was supported by a large number of Democrats. This Congressional resolution specifically stated that Sadaam was believed to have WMD's and that the WMD's were a threat to our national security. The Democrats saw the same intelligence that Bush saw. Yet, because no WMD's were found, they somehow believe that means that "Bush lied". If Bush lied, then didn't the Democrats who voted in favor of the Congressional authorization for war do so as well? This annoys me to no end.
Democrats somehow don't remember that they believed as the President did. So, do Democrats need a reminder? Here are just a few quotes (Hat Tip: Right Wing News):

"If you don't believe ... Saddam Hussein is a threat with nuclear weapons, then you shouldn't vote for me." -- John Kerry, USA Today on 2/13/03

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." -- From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

"I would disagree with John McCain that it’s the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us, it’s what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran or particularly Israel. Those are the things that - that I think present the greatest danger. He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It’s the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat." -- John Kerry, "Face The Nation", 9/15/02

"This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies." -- From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

"Whereas Iraq has consistently breached its cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the United States, entered into on March 3, 1991, by failing to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, and refusing to permit monitoring and verification by United Nations inspections; Whereas Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological capabilities, and has made positive progress toward developing nuclear weapons capabilities" -- From a joint resolution submitted by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter on July 18, 2002

"Saddam's goal ... is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed." -- Madeline Albright, 1998

"(Saddam) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983" -- National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Feb 18, 1998

"Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement." -- Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability." -- Robert Byrd, October 2002

"There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat... Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He's had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001... He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn't have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we." -- Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

"The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow." -- Bill Clinton in 1998

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security." -- Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

"I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons...I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out." -- Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

"Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." -- Al Gore, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." -- Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002


In reality, neither Bush nor the Democrats lied. As I have said before, Bush and the others who voted in support of the war could only have lied if they knew that Iraq had no WMD's and still continued to tell the American people that Sadaam had WMD's. There is no proof that Bush or those who voted in support of the war actually knew that there were no WMD's. Rather, a bipartisan commission found that Bush's claims were incorrect - but that such claims were based on faulty intelligence.
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