Your current reader poll asking “Should the U.S. have invaded Iraq 10 years ago, knowing what we know now?” presents a distorted view of reality. The wording of your question suggests that we now have information that was not available at the time. This is misleading at best and promulgates the notion that the biggest foreign policy blunder in modern American history was the result of intelligence that we now know was bad rather than an intentional disregard for the truth.
The question should be “knowing what we knew then and ignored, should we have invaded Iraq anyway?”
What we knew, then and now, was that the Bush administration was looking for an excuse to get Saddam from day one. They discussed this issue during the very first NSA meeting according to Richard Clark, former chief advisor to Clinton and Bush on terrorism, who was there. After Sept. 11, Bush personally asked Clark how the attack could be blamed on Iraq, when all of the evidence pointed to terrorists of Saudi Arabian origin, not Iraqis.
What we knew, then and now, was Iraq was not building WMDs and had abandoned its nuclear program years before the invasion. The “evidence” that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake uranium in Africa was based on forged documents of unknown origin that were so shoddy as to be called laughable by forgery experts. The so-called “eye witness” who verified the “mobile weapons labs” used by Colin Powell in his address to the UN was a shill for the Iraqi National Congress and was a known liar. Much of the information used to validate the invasion came from Amed Chalabi, head of the INC, who saw himself as Saddam’s replacement and was receiving several million dollars a month to provide the government with information from insiders loyal to Chalabi within Saddam’s regime. Two years later Chalabi was indicted in at least two different countries for fraud.
What we knew, then and now, was that the al-Qaeda connection to Iraq was a total fabrication based on a story Dick Cheney apparently invented about a hijacker meeting with Iraqi officials in Europe. The suspected terrorist was under surveillance and known to be in Virginia at the time Cheney said the meeting took place in Prague. The other proof of the al-Qaeda connection were statements made by a suspected terrorist about training camps within Iraq. The statements were made while the suspect was being tortured, despite the well known knowledge in the intelligence community that information gained through torture is unreliable at best.
Some people will argue that no one really lied, they just had bad intelligence. When the final CIA weapons inspection report on Iraq (the Kays Report) was issued and found no evidence of WMDs in Iraq at all and that Iraq had dismantled its programs after the first Gulf War, George W. Bush in his State of the Union address lied to the American people by stating that CIA inspectors had found “weapons of mass destruction-related program activities”.
The real question your paper should be asking is, “Should high-ranking members of the Bush administration, including the former president and vice president be tried for treason and crimes against humanity for invading a sovereign nation under false pretenses.”
Joe Keeble lives in Nevada City.
What we knew, then and now, was Iraq was not building WMDs and had abandoned its nuclear program years before the invasion.