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BUSH WATCH...War Lies
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"The Bush Administration is now saying it never told the public that Iraq was an "imminent" threat, and therefore it should be absolved for overstating the case for war and misleading the American people about Iraq's WMD. Just this week, White House spokesman Scott McClellan lashed out at critics saying "Some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used." But a closer look at the record shows that McClellan himself and others did use the phrase "imminent threat" (more)
"In a major speech this morning (02.05.04) addressing the failure to find WMD in Iraq, CIA Director George Tenet said the intelligence community never told the White House that Iraq was an imminent threat to America."
"'Absolutely.' White House spokesman Ari Fleischer answering whether Iraq was an "imminent threat, 5/7/03"
"'This is about imminent threat.' White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 2/10/03"
"'Well, of course he is.' White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett, responding to the question 'is Saddam an imminent threat to U.S. interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?' 1/26/03"
"'Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent-- that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons.' Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 9/18/02" (more)
George Tenet in his prepared remarks at Georgetown University on February 5, 2004, stated:
"Let me be clear: analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the Estimate.
"They never said there was an 'imminent' threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policymakers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests."
On the other hand consider the following quotes:
"For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat — most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.
"We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning."
QUESTION: Ari, the President has been saying that the threat from Iraq is imminent, that we have to act now to disarm the country of its weapons of mass destruction, and that it has to allow the U.N. inspectors in, unfettered, no conditions, so forth.
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: The chief U.N. inspector, however, is saying that, even under those conditions, it would be as much as a year before he could actually make a definitive report to the U.N. that Iraq is complying with the resolutions and allowing the inspections to take place. Isn't there a kind of a dichotomy? Can we wait a year, if it's so imminent we have to act now?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, that's why the President has gone to the United Nations to make certain that the conditions by which the inspectors would go back would be very different from the current terms that inspectors have been traveling around Iraq in as they've been thwarted in their attempt to find out what weapons Saddam Hussein has. But it's also important to hold Saddam Hussein accountable to make certain he no longer violates the will of the United Nations.
QUESTION: Ari, on Iraq, as this build-up continues, the military build-up continues, Americans can only draw one conclusion, and that is, though it's the last resort, this country is very much readying itself for war. So why isn't it time to clarify for the American people why exactly we would take such action, what evidence the administration possesses to link Saddam Hussein with an imminent threat against the country?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President has made it very clear that the role of the inspectors is a very important part of this process. The inspectors need to be in Iraq to do the job that the world has asked them to do. And they're in the middle of their work. The President understands, and is the first one to understand, that in the event he reaches this conclusion that Saddam Hussein has refused to disarm, Saddam Hussein continues to defy the inspectors and to hide his weapons, and that if the only way to achieve disarmament is through military action, the President is the first to understand the need to communicate that message to the American people. And indeed, he is prepared to do so, if it gets to that point.
It has not reached that point at this time. And so I think your question is a good one; it's just not at the time that the President has decided it is that time. This is the course of the inspections.
QUESTION: But why hold out? I mean, what we're seeing every day in our newspapers and on television are troops being deployed to the region and very pointed language towards Saddam Hussein. And yet, we can't know the real payoff here, which is why exactly we are readying ourselves to go to war -- what we know, what the government knows, that the public doesn't.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, because the President is the one who has to make the ultimate decision about whether or not Saddam Hussein has brought the world to the point where the world has no choice but to take military action. The President has not reached any conclusions. And so, it's not a question of why isn't the President saying anything today. At the appropriate time and in the President's judgment, he, of course, will. It's a solemn obligation on the President and he knows that.
QUESTION: What about NATO's role? Belgium now says it will veto any attempt to provide help to Turkey to defend itself. Is this something the administration can live with, or is it a major obstacle?
[White House spokesman] MR. McCLELLAN: Two points. We support the request under Article IV of Turkey. And I think it's important to note that the request from a country under Article IV that faces an imminent threat goes to the very core of the NATO alliance and its purpose.
. . .
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think what's important to remind NATO members, remind the international community is that this type of request under Article IV goes to the core of the NATO alliance.
QUESTION: Is this some kind of ultimate test of the alliance?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is about an imminent threat.
Q On the question of Iraq, two issues. First, you've been using the phrase, "gathering threat" and "grave danger," which obviously are words that the President, himself, used many times before the war. You have not used the word "imminent threat." And the essence of Dr. Kay's comments recently would suggest that there was no way for there to be an imminent threat.
Does the President now believe that, in fact, while the threat was gathering, while the threat may have been grave, that, in fact, it was not imminent?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've said all along that it was a grave and gathering threat. And that in a post-September 11th world, you must confront gathering threats before it's too late.
I think some in the media have chosen to use the word "imminent." Those were not words --
Q The President himself never used that word?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those were not words we used. We used "grave and gathering threat." We made it very clear that it was a gathering threat, that it's important to confront gathering threats in this post-September 11th world, because of the new dangers and new threats that we face.
Q So then under your interpretation, if you're not using the word "imminent" and the President didn't use it, this was not a preemptive attack, this was a preventative war? Is that the White House position?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, again, September 11th taught us that we must confront gathering threats before it's too late. Saddam Hussein -- Saddam Hussein had ample opportunity to come clean.
Consider the following in contrast with "grave and gathering threat."
from Merriam-Webster Third International Unabridged Dictionary, 2003.
1 : ready to take place : near at hand : IMPENDING *our imminent departure*; usually : hanging threateningly over one's head : menacingly near *in imminent jeopardy* *this imminent danger* --Christine, 02.06.04
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