A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top
administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security
threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that
effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under
decidedly false pretenses."
The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which
worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel
said he could not comment on the study because he had not seen it.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It
found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration
officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons
of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida
"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction
or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith
of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the
study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous
information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action
against Iraq on March 19, 2003."
Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration
during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza
Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and
Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only
to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10
about Iraq and al-Qaida.
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over
the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government
reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.
"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news
stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable
din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.
"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged
that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical.
These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided
additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements
about Iraq," it said.
On the Net:
Center For Public Integrity: http://www.publicintegrity.org/default.aspx
Fund For Independence in Journalism: http://www.tfij.org/
If anything warranted a hearing (under oath, thank you very much) to investigate this
further, this should be more than enough. Not that this is any NEW news to those of
us who've actually been paying attention over the years.