Column: Rewriting history about prewar intelligence of Iraq

By Tyler Friederich

There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies. “The world would be a better place if (Hussein) were in a different place other than the seat of power in Baghdad or any other country.” President Bush did not make these remarks – Howard Dean did in 2002 and 2003, respectively. As college students, we are constantly subjugated to assertions in the media and on The Daily Show that President Bush lied or “cooked up” the evidence about WMDs . The revisionist’s history of the events before the war in Iraq is undeniably ridiculous. It’s time to set the record straight with pure facts.

Over the summer I personally heard from former Iraqi Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder of the American Islamic Congress and participant in the failed uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991. While in grade school, one of her schoolmates questioned the Iran-Iraq war – her classmate was never seen again.

During the uprising against Hussein, Al-Suwaij freed prisoners from jails and torture cells where they were routinely placed in “human meat grinders,” “chemical baths,” “ovens” and “rooms for sexual torture.” Prewar Iraq was not peaceful, as Michael Moore would have you believe.

President Bush, months prior to the war in Iraq, stressed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. We have since been told that he lied to America. The truth is that intelligence did indicate that Iraq possessed and was developing WMDs. In 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate, the “intelligence community’s authoritative written judgment on specific national security issues,” declared that “Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons.” Nearly every intelligence agency around the world thought Iraq possessed WMDs, including Germany which opposed the invasion.

But critics’ allegations that President Bush somehow made up the evidence or pressured the intelligence agencies to exaggerate it are unfounded. The bi-partisan Silberman-Robb commission, set up to investigate the prewar intelligence failures, found “no evidence of political pressure to influence the Intelligence Community’s prewar assessment of Iraq’s weapons programs.”

When weapons inspector David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, returned with his findings the major newspapers’ headlines declared “No WMDs found in Iraq.” So the war is without merit, right? Wrong. David Kay and his successor, Charles Duelfer, reported that Iraq was in “material violation” of U.N. Resolution 1441, one of the justifications for going to war with Iraq.

And I am sure you did not read about David Kay saying this: “I actually think this may be one of those cases where (prewar Iraq) was even more dangerous than we thought” and “dozens of WMD-related program activities” were in progress.

But no WMDs have been found, right? Wrong. Duelfer’s assertion that they’re “finding things” and “getting reports of hidden caches almost every day which we have to investigate” is corroborated by his findings of chemical weapons. Although stockpiles of WMDs have not been found, contentions that no WMDs have been found are simply false.

The majority of the American public now believes it was wrong to invade Iraq. Even more do not think the war has been handled correctly, including me. But to call President Bush a liar constantly is irresponsible and hypocritical. I suppose the following people are liars too?

“On the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons” – President Clinton, 2003.

“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat. … Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons” – Gen. Wesley Clark, 2002.

“There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years” – Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W. VA, a ranking minority Intelligence Committee member, 2002.

There is no doubt that the war has been handled incorrectly. Questioning our leaders is our responsibility as socially engaged citizens and college students. But revising history for the sake of political ideology is inexcusable and devoid of rational thought.