A closer look at the Bush record -- from
the war in Iraq to the war on the environment
take the exit ramp off the Bush presidency in November?
Colin Powell's Legend
Colin Powell's sterling reputation in Washington hides his life-long role
as water-carrier for conservative ideologues.
Recounting the controversial presidential campaign
Is the national media a danger to democracy?
The Clinton Scandals
The story behind President Clinton's impeachment
Pinochet & Other Characters
The Dark Side of Rev. Moon
Rev. Sun Myung Moon and American politics
Contra drug stories uncovered
How the American historical record has been tainted by lies and cover-ups
The October Surprise
The 1980 October Surprise scandal exposed
From free trade to the Kosovo crisis
Other Investigative Stories
Bush: Deceptive or Delusional?
By Robert Parry
October 2, 2004
W. Bush still can’t – or won’t – get his brain around some central facts
that bear on his decision to invade Iraq in 2003. He falsified that
history again during the Sept. 30 presidential debate.
Before a national audience, Bush misrepresented
what should now be uncontested facts: that Iraq possessed no stockpiles
of weapons of mass destruction; that international sanctions did work;
that the inability of U.N. inspectors to find WMDs in Iraq was not
because they were incompetent but because there was nothing to find.
Bush’s inability – or unwillingness – to frankly
acknowledge these realities remains one of the most troubling aspects in
his bid for a second White House term. Either he’s living in a fantasy
world where facts are whatever he thinks they are or he has concluded
that most American voters are very stupid and will believe whatever he
During the debate with Sen. John Kerry in Coral
Gables, Fla., Bush continued to present a version of reality that has
long been discredited.
“I went there [the United Nations] hoping that once
and for all the free world would act in concert to get Saddam Hussein to
listen to our demands,” Bush said. “They [the Security Council] passed a
resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. I
believe when an international body speaks, it must mean what it says.
“But Saddam Hussein had no intention of disarming.
Why should he? He had 16 other resolutions and nothing took place. As a
matter of fact, my opponent talks about inspectors. The facts are that
he [Hussein] was systematically deceiving the inspectors. That wasn’t
going to work. That’s kind of a pre-Sept. 10 mentality, the hope that
somehow resolutions and failed inspections would make this world a more
Virtually every point in this war justification
from Bush is wrong. Whether or not Hussein had an “intention” to disarm,
the reality was that he had disarmed. Rather than the U.N. resolutions
having no consequence, they apparently achieved their goal of a WMD-free
Iraq. Rather than clueless U.N. inspectors duped by Hussein, the
inspectors were not finding WMDs because the stockpiles weren’t there.
Bush's post-invasion inspection team didn't find WMDs either.
But rather than simply face up to the facts and
admit that he was wrong, Bush acts as if the reality of the past year
and a half can be wiped away. In defiance of the findings from his own
WMD inspection team, Bush flashes back to the good ol’ days of late 2002
when conservative talk shows mocked the U.N. inspectors and lobbed
charges of treason at anyone who questioned Bush’s case for war.
Bush's debate deception also wasn't a onetime slip
of the tongue. Bush has been rewriting the prelude to the Iraq War for
more than a year now – and has paid little price for his dissembling.
Dating back to July 2003, Bush has insisted that Iraq refused to let
U.N. inspectors in during the run-up to war. The reality, of course, was
that the U.N. inspectors were inside Iraq, getting access to any suspect
site of their choosing. They wanted to continue their work in March
2003, but Bush’s invasion plans forced them to leave. [For details, see
on the Ballot.”]
Like his earlier falsehoods, Bush’s latest
rendition has drawn very little press criticism. In the middle of a
fact-checking article, the Washington Post did mention Bush’s assertion
about Hussein having “no intention of disarming.” The Post then noted
that “Iraq asserted in its filing with the United Nations in December
2002 that it had no such weapons, and none has been found.” [Washington
Post, Oct. 1, 2004]
Some press eyebrows also were raised when Bush
asserted that "the Taliban is no longer in existence," contradicting
reports from U.S. military and intelligence officials who say the former
Afghan rulers have regrouped and have stepped up their military
challenge to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
Bush slipped into another cozy distortion when he
justified the Iraq invasion by declaring that "the enemy attacked us,"
thus linking Iraq to al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks on New York and
Washington. That prompted a retort from Kerry, who reminded Bush that
"Saddam Hussein didn't attack us; Osama bin Laden attacked us." An
annoyed Bush responded by saying, "Of course, I know Osama bin Laden
But Bush has not suffered any sustained criticism
for his recurring misstatements about the Iraq War. By contrast, in
Campaign 2000, the national news media denounced Vice President Al Gore
as a “liar” for minor errors, such as his recollection that he had
visited a disaster site with the director of the Federal Emergency
Management Administration when Gore actually was with a FEMA deputy.
Four years ago, while jumping all over Gore, the
press corps largely gave Bush a pass for his false statements,
presumably because many reporters felt that the Texas governor might not
know any better. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Protecting
Bush-Cheney.”] The leniency toward Bush has continued into Campaign
2004, though one might expect that a sitting president should at least
know the basic facts about an event as important as invading Iraq.
It’s possible, too, that Bush’s insistence on
presenting a bogus history of the Iraq War suggests a deeper problem.
Either Bush has entered a make-believe world where facts are whatever he
thinks they are – or he has calculated that he can lie to the American
people without consequence. Either he’s out of touch with reality or
he’s concluded that he can say whatever he wants and no one will call
him to account.
Either possibility – delusion or cynicism – is
dangerous for the future of the American Republic. Indeed, it may be
hard to know which is worse: to have a commander in chief who can’t
distinguish fact from fiction or to have a president who holds such a
low opinion of the intelligence of the American people that he believes
he can tell them bald-faced lies and get away with it.
Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Parry's
latest book is Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from
Watergate to Iraq. It can be purchased at
secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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