By David Swanson
Remarks from delivery of Bush Crimes Commission Verdict, Camp Democracy, September 13, 2006
The testimony that I presented in January to the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration was related to the evidence found in the Downing Street Memos. This evidence is connected to Count 1 in the Wars of Aggression Indictment being delivered today, which reads: “The Bush Administration authorized a war of aggression against Iraq.”
No one seriously disputes that the war on Iraq was launched without authorization by the U.N. Security Council and without the justification of acting in self-defense against an attack on the United States by Iraq. President Bush has said repeatedly that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, and no other attack by Iraq has been alleged. So, Count 1 of the indictment would be provable without any particular evidence, and would be provable even were all of the pre-war claims made by the Bush Administration proved true.
Sadly, the claims the Bush Administration made to justify the war, not only would not have justified it if true, but were intentionally dishonest. The evidence to back up this statement is overwhelming. We are not dealing here with mistakes or incompetence, but with criminality. There can no longer be any doubt that the Bush Administration did not experience a failure of intelligence, but rather a success of stupidity and arrogance.
The Downing Street Memos confirmed what we already knew from numerous sources: the Bush Administration had determined to go to war by July of 2002 if not much earlier and was lying to Congress and the public about its intentions. The Bush Administration was focused not on avoiding war, but on selling the war with false claims about ties between Iraq and September 11th and about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While the U.S. Senate still can’t quite bring itself to say these things, the revelations of the Downing Street Memos were considered old news by many in the media – which conveniently allowed them to also refrain from saying these things aloud.
But the Downing Street Memos turned out to be early smoking guns in what has become an inconveniently enormous arsenal. And most of the more recent smoking guns have hardly been displayed for public view at all. Just days before I testified to the commission in January, James Risen’s book “State of War” revealed that what Sir Richard Dearlove had reported about U.S. intentions in the Downing Street Memo he had likely learned from a good source, because he had attended a CIA-MI6 summit at CIA headquarters on Saturday, July 20, 2002. During the day-long summit, Dearlove met privately with CIA head George Tenet for an hour and a half. This has yet to be reported in a single U.S. media outlet. Books are now the first, as well as the last, draft of history.
A week after I testified, an updated edition of Phillipe Sands’ book “Lawless World” revealed a memo from a White House meeting of Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on January 31st, 2003, six months after the Downing Street meeting. In this memo, we have confirmation that Bush intended to invade Iraq with or without U.N. authorization and whether or not UN inspectors found any evidence of banned weapons. And we see in this memo Bush proposing possible ways to concoct a justification for war, including flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft planes with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colors, in hopes of getting them shot at.
In March we learned from Murray Waas that Bush had been personally informed in early October 2002 of the State Department’s and the Energy Department’s debunking of claims that Saddam Hussein was acquiring aluminum tubes for a nuclear weapons program, and that he had been informed on at least five occasions that U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Iraq was unlikely to attack the United States.
Also in March, Paul Pillar, the CIA’s National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, published a paper and began speaking publicly, confirming that during the run-up to the war, the Bush Administration disregarded the intelligence community’s expertise, politicized the intelligence process, and selected misleading so-called intelligence to make its public case.
In April, Tyler Drumheller, who headed CIA spying in Europe, told the media that prior to the war, the CIA had known from a good Iraqi source that Iraq no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction, something we had already known Hussein Kammel to have revealed to the CIA.
Also in April we learned that the U.S. State Department had informed the CIA in January of 2003 – prior to the plane painting meeting – that the documents supporting the claims about Iraq buying uranium were forgeries.
In recent months, the evidence has continued to mount in tremendous superfluity and redundancy. And memories of the certainty with which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice declared Iraq to possess nuclear and other weapons has begun to fade. We’re now told that they launched this war because Saddam Hussein might have some day developed weapons. But in that claim, of course, lies a confession to what the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” That crime is the crime of aggressive war.