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Claims vs. Facts 

Examining Bush's appearance on Meet The Press

Pre-War Intelligence
CLAIM: "I expected to find the weapons [because] I based my decision on the best intelligence possible. . .The evidence I had was the best possible evidence that he had a weapon."

FACT: The White House was repeatedly warned by the intelligence community. The Washington Post reported this weekend, "President Bush and his top advisers ignored many of the caveats and qualifiers included in the classified report on Saddam Hussein's weapons." Specifically, the President made unequivocal statements that Iraq "has got chemical weapons" two months after the DIA concluded that there was "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons." Bush said, "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production" three months after the White House received an intelligence report that clearly indicated Department of Energy experts concluded the tubes were not intended to produce uranium enrichment centrifuges.

CLAIM: "We looked at the intelligence."

FACT: The White House ignored intelligence warnings. Knight Ridder reported that CIA officers "said President Bush ignored warnings" that his WMD case was weak. And Greg Thielmann, the Bush State Department's top intelligence official, "said suspicions were presented as fact, and contrary arguments ignored." Knight Ridder later reported, "Senior diplomatic, intelligence and military officials have charged that Bush and his top aides made assertions about Iraq's banned weapons programs and alleged links to al-Qaeda that weren't supported by credible intelligence, and that they ignored intelligence that didn't support their policies."

CLAIM: "The international community thought he had weapons."

FACT: The international community told the White House the opposite. The IAEA and U.N. both repeatedly told the Administration it had no evidence that Iraq possessed WMDs. On Feb. 15, 2003, the IAEA said that, "We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq." On March 7, 2003, IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei said nuclear experts have found "no indication" that Iraq has tried to import high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge enrichment of uranium. At the same time, AP reported that, "U.N. weapons inspectors have not found any "smoking guns' in Iraq during their search for WMD." AP also reported, "U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said his teams have not uncovered any WMD."

CLAIM: "I went to Congress with the same intelligence. Congress saw the same intelligence I had, and they looked at exactly what I looked at."

FACT: Congress was outraged at the presentation by the White House. The New Republic reported, "Senators were outraged to find that intelligence info given to them omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war." According to Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), many House members were only convinced to support the war after the Administration "showed them a photograph of a small, unmanned airplane spraying a liquid in what appeared to be a test for delivering chemical and biological agents," despite the US Air Force telling the Administration it "sharply disputed the notion that Iraq's UAVs were being designed as attack weapons." Pre-War Assertions


CLAIM: "I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It's too late if they become imminent."

FACT: The Bush Administration repeatedly claimed that Iraq was an imminent threat before the war -- not that it would "become imminent." Specifically, White House communications director Dan Bartlett was asked on CNN: "Is [Saddam Hussein] an imminent threat to US interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?" Bartlett replied, "Well, of course he is." Similarly, when White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether America went to war in Iraq because of an imminent threat, he replied, "Absolutely." And White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the reason NATO allies -- including the US -- should support the defense of one of its members from Iraq was because "this is about an imminent threat." Additionally, the Administration used "immediate," "urgent" and "mortal" to describe the supposed Iraqi threat to the United States.

CLAIM: "I think, if I might remind you, that in my language I called it a grave and gathering threat, but I don't want to get into word contests."

FACT: Bush made far more dire statements before the war. While the President did call Iraq a "grave and gathering" threat, that wasn't all he said. On Nov. 23, 2002, he said Iraq posed a "unique and urgent threat." On Jan. 3, 2003, he said, "Iraq is a threat to any American." On Oct. 28, 2002, he said Iraq was "a real and dangerous threat" to America. On Oct. 2, 2002, he said, "The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency" and that Iraq posed "a grave threat" to America.

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