Bush Lied About Mobile Trailers For A Year, And Powell Now Fingers Cheney
As the Bush Administration begins to make its case for war against Iran based on its claims of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, remember this and forget ever trusting them again on anything said by Bush, Cheney, and Rummy. Read what the Post is running with Wednesday in a Page One. And see how Colin now gets religion.
On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."
The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.
A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.
The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.
And then today, journalist Robert Scheer tells us about an off-the-cuff interview he had with Colin Powell yesterday after Powell had given a talk in Los Angeles. What did Powell tell Scheer? He never believed the aluminum tubes story, nor the Niger uranium story, but went along because Cheney believed and pushed both.
I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the president ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?
"The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote," Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush’s State of the Union speech? "That was a big mistake," he said. "It should never have been in the speech. I didn’t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn’t a Niger connection. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. I never believed it."
When I pressed further as to why the president played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn’t the president: "That was all Cheney."
Thanks for nothing Colin. The families of over 2300 dead Americans and thousands more maimed may not value your sense of loyalty as much as you apparently do.