Petards of Mass Destruction

By David Swanson

Is it possible to convict a group of people of the highest possible crime simply by editing together public statements that they made while planning it?

If so, the best attempt at doing so that I imagine I’ll ever see is found in a new 72-minute film available for viewing free online or by purchasing a DVD at

“Leading to War” begins and ends with a very few words of text on the screen. The rest is almost entirely clips of public statements at rallies, in television interviews, and at press conferences, statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Blair, Wolfowitz, and the rest of the gang between September 11, 2001, and March 19, 2003. There is some little-known footage included, and the sequence of the clips tells a coherent and compelling story.

Of course, this format has some weaknesses. Someone whose knowledge was limited to this film would have no way of knowing that many of the statements made in it were lies. There’s no indication that the invasion of Iraq was being planned prior to 911. There’s no indication that the attack was secretly underway prior to March 19, 2003. When Bush refers to an IAEA report that didn’t exist, we don’t necessarily know that. When several of the film’s protagonists make claims about “weapons of mass destruction” and ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, we are not informed that they knew they were lying. Claims about aluminum tubes, Prague meetings, uranium purchases, training of al Qaeda in Iraq, mobile production facilities, and even Bush’s pretense that he was trying to avoid war, are allowed to stand or fall without commentary. Text at the end of the film informs us that these claims were not true, but not that they were known at the time to be untrue, as of course they were. Commentary missing from the film is provided on the website at Additional evidence is collected at

On the other hand, the film does a much better job of informing people than the above paragraph might suggest. For one thing, we see in the film not just the statements of the Bush-Cheney Gang but also the questions of interviewers. Tough questions were few and far between in the lead up to the invasion, and this film includes most of them. Anyone whose knowledge of this story was limited to this film would have a much higher opinion of the US news media than is deserved. The questions serve throughout the film as a straight-man to these thugs’ murderous comedy. We even see Tim Russert, of all people, pointing out the exposure of the lies that launched the first Gulf War and the early exposure of the fraudulent and plagiarized British case for attacking Iraq this time around.

Just by watching this film, we are reminded or informed that:

–Iraq told the world truthfully in 2002 and 2003 that it had no WMDs,
–the world was broadly opposed to a U.S. attack on Iraq,
–Iraq was willing to sit down and talk, but the United States was not,
–Cheney didn’t want inspectors in Iraq,
–Cheney and his cronies predicted joyful throngs greeting “liberators”,
–Scott Ritter rejected the WMD lies and made it onto television doing so,
–Bush pushed the British claim that Iraq could attack us within 45 minutes,
–Bush told us Iraq could attack us with unmanned aerial vehicles,
–all of these people made their assertions about WMDs repeatedly and with absolute certainty,
–Bush and Rice said we risked waking up to a “mushroom cloud” if we didn’t attack Iraq,
–Iraq cooperated with inspectors,
–most nations of the world and huge crowds of people around the world opposed an attack on Iraq,
–Rumsfeld swore the whole thing would cost under $50 billion,
–Bush said we should attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein used torture: “If this is not evil,” said Bush (who was already torturing people himself), “then evil has no meaning,”
–the goal Bush said he had in launching an aggressive war was “a free and peaceful Iraq…an inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region,” and
–most nations in the world saw no imminent threat from Iraq, and the United Nations refused to support an aggressive attack by the United States, which tried very hard to win U.N. approval but then attacked without it.

The film closes with some text indicating, among other things, that no WMDs were ever found, that the occupation has been costly, etc. These claims are all crafted to avoid any possible objections, to the point in some cases of erring wildly on the side of war supporters. When every serious study done finds over 1 million Iraqi deaths, this film grotesquely puts the count at 100,000.

But that’s my one and only complaint with it. I highly recommend getting the DVD and showing it in your town, followed by a discussion. It would be very hard for anyone to argue with what they’ve seen: the people responsible for a war of aggression, the supreme international crime, hoisting themselves on their own petards. This is the greatest value videotape has.

It’s hard, however, not to feel embarrassed when watching this for all the poor saps cheering the speeches, the soldiers used as props behind the podiums, and the morons at places like the American Enterprise Institute cheering for each and every lie.

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