IRAQ 20 YEARS: Ray McGovern — The Uses and Abuses of National Intelligence Estimates

The case to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003 was based on an NIE that was prepared not to determine the truth, but rather to “justify” preemptive war, when there was nothing to preempt.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

A New York Times Magazine article in July 2020 focused on then Secretary of State Powell and his U.N. speech of Feb. 5, 2003 and the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) upon which it is largely based. A lot of the detail in the article may have been new to many readers, but not to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which had been established a month before. VIPS watched the speech, dissected it, and sent their verdict to President George W. Bush before close of business that same afternoon

We gave Powell a charitable grade of “C”, faulting him for, inter alia, not providing needed context and perspective. We should have flunked him outright.

Robert Draper’s article describes how, despite C.I.A.’s strong effort to please, the “case” the agency made for war on Iraq, using such evidence as there was on weapons of mass destruction, was deemed not alarmist enough for Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration hawks.

McLaughlin. (Wikimedia Commons)

Specifically, the hawks were dissatisfied with the evidence-light, but-alarmist (term of art used was “leaning forward”) Pentagon and White House briefings by C.I.A. Deputy Director John McLaughlin in late Dec. 2002 on WMD in Iraq. The hawks started to look elsewhere, since not all senior officials (including Powell) appeared to be “with the program.”

Draper reports that Powell ordered Carl Ford, director of the widely respected State Department Intelligence Unit (INR), to review the bidding regarding biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Ford’s analysts strongly disputed many of the key assertions from the usual suspects — particularly those coming from non-intelligence, war-friendly bureaucrats enlisted to support the war-lust proclivities of Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Powell’s chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, was also spending an inordinate amount of time batting away unsourced and dubious-sourced assertions from Cheneyites, so Powell finally told Wilkerson to start drafting from scratch.

Here’s where it gets interesting; here is where a little history and inside-baseball intelligence experience comes in handy. Draper quotes Powell: “It was George Tenet who came to the rescue.”

C.I.A. Director Tenet suggested basing a new draft on the National Intelligence Estimate of Oct. 1, 2002, “Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction.” That had immense appeal to Tenet and others who had been co-opted into “leaning forward” to facilitate a Bush/Cheney war on Iraq. Indeed, one can assume it had appeal to most of those involved in Powell’s speech preparation, given that the Security Council briefing was but a handful of days away.

I have been referring to that NIE, advisedly, as The Whore of Babylon, wrong on every major accusation about WMD in Iraq. I speak from experience at the C.I.A. as a former chair of National Intelligence Estimates. This one was prepared not to determine the truth, but rather to “justify” a preemptive war on Iraq, where there was nothing to preempt.

To their credit, State/INR analysts had expressed formal dissent from some of its main conclusions back in September 2002.

No, it is not possible that Powell could have been unaware of that. And it is not difficult to explain why Powell chose to spurn his own intelligence analysts, despite their relatively solid reputation. I will resist the temptation to guess at Powell’s motivation, even though I have had some considerable experience with him. Back in the day, we used to spend a few minutes comparing notes before my one-on-one morning briefings of his boss, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, with The President’s Daily Brief.

I am not surprised, though, as Draper quotes Powell explaining his decision to stay in place as secretary of state and to do what he was told: “I knew I didn’t have any choice. He’s the President.” Draper adds that, “although Powell would not admit it, Bush’s request that he be the one to make the case against Hussein to the U.N. was enormously flattering. Cheney took a more direct approach: ‘The Vice President said to me: “You’re the most popular man in America. Do something with that popularity.””

The All-Purpose NIE on Iraqi WMD

Tenet on left with Powell and U.N. ambassador John Negroponte at Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003. (Wikimedia))

Draper describes INR’s Director Ford as “heartsick” watching Powell on TV before the U.N. Security Council. Ford’s chagrin was widely shared among serious intelligence analysts — as well as by us alumni watching the prostitution of what had been our tell-it-like-it-is intelligence analysis profession. But there the National Intelligence Estimate was for plucking — an intelligence community-endorsed consensus already “on the books” — and with drafting time running out.

Admittedly, this would be a far cry from starting “from scratch.” Rather, it became a case of “garbage in, garbage out.” Draper names the intelligence garbagemen: C.I.A. Director Tenet, his deputy McLaughlin, the chair of the NIE Robert Walpole, for example. They were out and out guilty of fixing the NIE in the first place and then its derivative that Powell briefed in open session to Security Council. No, these were not innocent mistakes. The intelligence was fraudulent from the get-go.

I am not making this up. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity were able to see what was coming, and warned Bush on the afternoon of Powell’s speech to be wary of “those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.” VIPS followed up with two more Memos before the March 2003 U.S./UK attack on Iraq.

The leaked Downing Street Minutes, published by The Times of London on May 1, 2005, provided the “smoking gun.” The minutes, from a July 23, 2002 briefing of Prime Minister Tony Blair by the chief of British intelligence, just back from consultations with Tenet in Langley, showed that the White House had already decided to attack Iraq for regime change and that the “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”. [Emphasis added.]

This and additional detail is covered in a chapter I wrote in 2005, for the book Neo-CONNED Again!, which I titled “Sham Dunk: Cooking Intelligence for the President.”

Sadly, not one of the many intelligence functionaries aware of what was going on went to the media or resigned. In contrast, before the attack on Iraq, three senior Foreign Service Officers, looking on from Athens, Ulaanbaatar, and Washington, summarily quit on principle — so clear had it become that the U.S. was embarked on a so-called “war of choice.”

“War of choice” is more formally known as “war of aggression” — defined at the post WWII Nuremberg Tribunal as “the supreme international crime differing from other war crimes only in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” (Think torture, for example, as part of that accumulation.)

Equally sad, none of the perpetrators of the crime have been held to account for this crime, nor even for torture and other accumulated evils. No one held to account. Col. Pat Lang and I addressed this issue in an op-ed in 2007; we argued that the U.S. could ill afford letting the Iraq War-liars off lightly, even if that meant taking a hard look back over previous years.

What is the inevitable result when no one is held to account?

Putting a coda on all this several years later, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced on June 5, 2008 the bipartisan conclusions of a five-year study by his committee that the attack on Iraq was launched “under false pretenses.” He described the intelligence conjured up to “justify” war on Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

“Non-existent” intelligence?

Finally, for those who may continue to believe that Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice (of “mushroom cloud” fame”), for example, were mistaken, rather than lying about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, let me suggest watching this very short video.


Then, please ask yourself if Iraq could go from zero weapons of mass destruction before 9/11 to a formidable array of WMD a short year later.

NIEs: a Big Deal

Ever since the C.I.A. was established, the NIE has been the supreme genre of intelligence analysis and has included input from other intelligence agencies — in recent years, 17 of them. The NIE’s record for accuracy is spotty. One completed in September 1962, for example, said the Soviets would never try to put missiles in Cuba, as the missiles were en route.

A thoroughly professional one on Iran in 2007, managed by a former director of State/INR, concluded unanimously “with high confidence” that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in late 2003. That one demonstrably played a huge role in thwarting Cheney/Bush planning for a strike on Iran in 2008, their last year in office. (Bush actually says as much in the part of his memoir that he wrote himself.)

It would be a mistake, however, to put the “Whore of Babylon” NIE of Oct. 1, 2002 about all those Iraqi WMD in the category of the unfortunate 1962 Estimate on Cuba. The conclusions in the Iraq Estimate were not mistaken, they were fraudulent. The conclusions were fixed to “justify” an unprovoked attack on Iraq.

Here’s what happened and why it is relevant today. Throughout 2002, Tenet, who as director of Central Intelligence was in charge of the entire intelligence community as well as the C.I.A., had been deftly avoiding doing an Estimate on WMD in Iraq because he knew the evidence was paper-thin. As the public campaign to justify an attack on Iraq heated up in September 2002, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham (D-FL) asked Tenet to please prepare such an Estimate. The answer came back: Can’t do; too busy.

Under pressure from Committee member Dick Durbin (D-IL) Graham called Tenet back and told him, in essence: No NIE, no vote to authorize war.

After informing the White House, Tenet got permission to go ahead and have an NIE prepared — with two conditions. It had to conform with the extreme accusations about Iraqi WMD that Cheney made during a speech at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville on Aug. 26, 2002; and the NIE had to be formally issued before the first week of October when the White House wanted a House and Senate vote to give Bush permission to make war.

No problem for Tenet, who found himself the ultimate beneficiary of former C.I.A. Director Robert Gates’ finely tuned Geiger counter for careerists and corruptibility in selecting top managers. The malleable managers promoted originally by Gates were happy to conjure up in record time a formal estimate written to the specifications of their frequent visitor: Vice President Cheney. This is the NIE on Iraq’s weapons capability that Draper describes as having “been thrown together in less than three weeks” in September 2002.

Tenet speaks to Cheney, with Bush and his chief of staff Andy Card in Oval Office, March 20, 2003, the day after the attack on Iraq began. (Wikimedia Commons)

Corrupt Holdovers: ‘So Eager to Help’

James Clapper, whom President Barack Obama appointed director of National Intelligence overseeing the entire intelligence community, was in charge of satellite imagery analysis at the time, leading up to the attack on Iraq. Did he tell anyone that no WMD had been discovered in imagery — the primary source for such intelligence? Well, no. Rather, he was “leaning forward.”

At the Carnegie Foundation in November 2018, Clapper was hawking his memoir Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From a Life in Intelligence. In the book Clapper places the blame for the consequential fraud (he calls it “the failure”) to find the (non-existent) WMD, in his words, “where it belongs — squarely on the shoulders of the administration members who were pushing a narrative of a rogue WMD program in Iraq and on the intelligence officers, including me, who were so eager to help that we found what wasn’t really there.” (Emphasis added) .

Clapper explained:

“… we heard that Vice President Cheney was pushing the Pentagon for intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and then the order came down [to Clapper as director of NIMA, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] to find the WMD sites. We set to work, analyzing imagery to eventually identify, with varying degrees of confidence, more than 950 sites where we assessed there might be WMDs or a WMD connection. We drew on all of NIMA’s skill sets … and it was all wrong.”

During the Q and A I commented on Clapper’s eagerness to please whatever superiors he was working for at the time, and give them the information they lusted for to “justify” things like war — to the point of finding “what wasn’t really there.”?

I noted that exactly two years earlier, the Obamas and Clintons were desperate to blame Donald Trump’s victory on Russian interference. And so, I asked, was this a repeat performance? Had Clapper snapped to and again “found what really wasn’t there?” This, I emphasized, was the conclusion of VIPS, including two former technical directors at NSA who had done the forensic research on how DNC emails ended up at WikiLeaks — the work the FBI decided not to do.

Why Not an NIE on Russian Interference?

Here’s the rub. In December 2016, Clapper rejected a request from House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to provide a briefing to members on Russia’s alleged meddling in the November election.

The denial prompted Nunes to cast doubt on recent claims coming out of the C.I.A., including whether or not there really is an agency assessment that Moscow was aiming to help Trump win the presidency. “We want to clarify press reports that the C.I.A. has a new assessment that it has not shared with us,” he added.

Nunes was more pointed in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Clapper. He claimed he was “dismayed” that the committee had not been informed about reports that the C.I.A. had revised information that it previously reported to members. Nunes noted that during an open hearing in November, Clapper said the evidence connecting the government of Russia to WikiLeaks was “not as strong,” and that the intel community didn’t have “good insight into” the issue.

McGovern questions Clapper at Carnegie Endowment in Washington. (Alli McCracken)

At about the same time, several Democratic senators, including Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), wrote a letter to Clapper requesting an NIE on “Russian efforts to manipulate the recent US presidential election.”

“Given the serious nature of these matters, with unprecedented national security implications, we believe that our intelligence community must prioritize a conclusive, public NIE to lay out the facts of this serious matter for the American people,” the senators urged in their letter.

Oops. Lame duck Clapper and his bosses suddenly developed a Tenet-like allergy to preparing a full blown NIE. The White House opted instead to commission Clapper to do a study for Obama. The Democrats in Congress may well have been warned about the thinness of the evidence (now thoroughly debunked) that Russia hacked the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks. In any event, they acquiesced in what Clapper misnamed an “Intelligence Community Assessment” titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.”

An NIE, of course, would have required the participation of all 17 intelligence agencies, some of whom, like State/INR, might ask troublesome questions about the evidence as well as the conclusions. Clapper’s lame excuse that there was not enough time to do a full NIE does not pass the smell test.

After several months of advertising the “Intelligence Community Assessment” as the product of all 17 intelligence agencies, Clapper was forced to admit to Congress that, well, actually only the C.I.A., F.B.I., and NSA were involved; and, well, actually only “handpicked analysts” from those three. Notably shut out of the process were that pesky INR (with its substantial expertise on Russia) and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which has charter responsibility for keeping tabs on the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency alleged to have done the hacking.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock asked a former colleague why State/INR was frozen out of the process. His friend explained simply that INR did not agree with the analysis — and not for the first time.

In other words, the Jan. 6, 2017 “Intelligence Community Assessment” was deliberately organized as a rump effort to come up with the answers Clapper’s White House bosses wanted — a reprise of his performance with imagery analysis on WMD in Iraq.

And off and running went Russiagate.

This escapade actually may have been easier for Clapper who may believe what he said during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on May 28, 2017; namely that the Russians are “almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” Certainly, Clapper would not want any State Department pin-stripers messing with his firm handle on the make-up of Russian chromosomes.

Clapper and his colleagues are no longer in office and, by some estimates, may be lucky to stay out of jail.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a C.I.A. analyst, he briefed The President’s Daily Brief, led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, and chaired National Intelligence Estimates. He is still on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.


18 comments for “IRAQ 20 YEARS: Ray McGovern — The Uses and Abuses of National Intelligence Estimates

  1. CaseyG
    March 20, 2023 at 18:43

    Sadly America is wrong a lot, as is Biden. But then, I think that America has a horrible history of our,
    “Weapons of Wrong Deductions.”

  2. lester
    March 20, 2023 at 17:28

    What intelligence estimates are telling Pres. Biden that PR China will invade Taiwan any day now? After 70 years of not invading? I fear some astrologer or I Ching expert is telling the Pres. what he wants to hear.

  3. lester
    March 20, 2023 at 17:25

    Judging by the results of the endless wars of my lifetime, I suspect many of our leaders make their decisions to go to war using crystal balls, psychics, ouija boards, chicken guts, etc. George W. Bush, fundamentalist protestant, took Dispensationalism way too seriously and relied on the whacked-out interpretations of the Bible by prophecy preachers. Hence his lecture to French Pres. Chirac about Gog and Magog. Jesus, however, did not return, reward the righteous, punish the wicked, etc.

  4. robert e williamson jr
    March 20, 2023 at 17:08

    Great work here Ray, good to hear from you!

  5. John Corr
    March 20, 2023 at 11:37

    Is not the same thing basically happening today with U.S. policy on Ukraine, which is a long-time Joe Biden adventure? The renewal of the Cold War was manifest in Kyiv in February, 2014, when a democratically elected, pro-Russia President, Viktor Yanukovych, was deposed in a bloody coup. Many people do not know about the coup because it is largely ignored by the media — which says something. See The Guardian (UK) online for coup details. Zelensky is coup heir. As Yanukovych viewed mounting coup violence, “The White House said Joe Biden, the vice-president, spoke to Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday by telephone and warned him that the US was preparing to sanction officials responsible for the violence.”, see hxxps://
    It is on the record that, following the coup, the Pentagon and CIA began training the Ukrainian coup military. Conclusions? Under our Constitution, Congress is the only governmental power that can declare war? It looks like war already has been declared. The 2014 coup was well planned. Was outside help involved? Will the Ukraine fiasco turn out to be the biggest scandal in American (and Media) history? Time for Congress to investigate! Time to face the facts! It may even be time to consider impeachment!!!

  6. Drew Hunkins
    March 20, 2023 at 10:19

    Phenomenal piece Ray. Thank you for your valuable work over the years. It’s invaluable.

  7. Bruce Todd
    March 20, 2023 at 08:49

    Thank you again Ray McGovern for what is both a chilling report on what has been and is still now the rotten state of affairs, which i must sadly add i believe can be said across much of our intelligence community today. As a veteran, graduate of the U.S. Army Air Defense School in Ft. Bliss, and recent attendee of the “Rage Against the War Machine”, this exposure and all the work being done to stop the Ukraine War and other fiascos from becoming WWIII, thank you for your continuing service to the nation, and the potential for a peace driven world. When the people of the nation emerge from the nightmare we entered from events in the 1960’s, we should start to join and engage in the kind of diplomacy just shown by what China did with the Saudi leadership and Iran’s, and tackle the present onrushing global financial crash, and the needs of billions of peoples in countries across the globe. I believe that was the true intention of this nation’s founders in adoption of our own Constitution and Bill of Rights. Thanks again

  8. LeoSun
    March 20, 2023 at 02:04

    “What is the inevitable result when no one is held to account?”

    Imo, “ The M.I.C.’$ collection of old, perverted warmongers, the mother lode of deception, destruction and death, execute business as usual. Their standard operating procedure is, “There is No Option,” Deception. Destruction. Death, RULE!

    Concluding, “America is Back! AND, she’s got an UGLY, UGLY side,” i.e., the “Selection” of BIDEN-HARRIS; and, their policy of choice, to keep ‘em in power:

    * Herd Immunity – A typical, rabid, right-wing technique “driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor,” whatever it takes, to suck “us” in and buy the lies!
    * Herd Immunity – “Vote Blue. No Matter Who!!!”
    * Herd Immunity – Got U.S., “The Big Guy & That Little Girl.” Reflecting, the Nation’s $tate of Extreme Decline. “The most backward of the Democrat primary candidates. The most colorless, least energetic,” political corpse was made King-Queen. A runaway train w/NO Brakes, NO Reverse & a war plan to Nuke the Planet NOT Save It!!! The saving grace, Biden-Harris are NOT in command of the nuclear codes!
    * Who is, in command of The Nuclear Codes? I digress……
    * Herd Immunity – Millions dead per “The Rona aka SARS-CoV-2 (19)+, “A historic social crime. A searing indictment of the capitalist system,” The WH’s + their Board of Executioners’ + Congress’ false claims to “protect children, families or communities,” = More, Blood on Their Hands.

    Imo, in the same vein, that Sam Bankman-Fried’s “FTX created a worthless token out of thin air and used it to make its balance sheet appear more robust than it really was;” The WH “Fires-Up” the same math, for WARS, past & present, POTUS-V.P. + M.I.C. + Congress + MSMedia = A “Home Grown” WMD. A lethal, Corporate, Coup D’État.

    Therefore, “WANTED, A LEADER!!! A Peacemaker NOT “The Big Guy,” PUTIN “pegged as an unreconstructed warmonger and longtime advocate of NATO expansion, someone who’d act on his madness.”

    “No “crafted” Reading from the Stump” or 46 second “Presser” is gonna change the essential fact that Joey Biden’s yap’n & yell’n, is just an old, demented, political corpse, sans a heart & a soul, screaming @ the sky. BIDEN-HARRIS w/all their uhhs, umms, blathering, blame gaming, brain freezes; and, jacked-up story-telling, are on f/over-drive. “It goes on and on and on until you cannot eat enough to vomit.”

    Nevertheless, Ray McGovern & the V.I.P.S., ‘GOT’ the intelligence,’ Exhibit A-Z, the wholly truth! Needed: The power to serve ‘em up, POTUS’ 40-46, Biden-Harris, + their Board of Executioners + Congress, for prosecution. Ciao

  9. Andrew Nichols
    March 20, 2023 at 01:22

    Equally sad, none of the perpetrators of the crime have been held to account for this crime, nor even for torture and other accumulated evils. No one held to account. Col. Pat Lang and I addressed this issue in an op-ed in 2007; we argued that the U.S. could ill afford letting the Iraq War-liars off lightly, even if that meant taking a hard look back over previous years.

    What is the inevitable result when no one is held to account?

    Answer: more and more wars of increasing brutality

  10. March 19, 2023 at 20:07

    What I have rarely heard said is that EVEN IF Saddam Hussein had nukes, it would have been suicidal for him to have used them against the US given our THOUSANDS of nuclear warheads and multiple means to deliver them.

    If a nuclear-armed sub was close enough to Iraq, the entire country could’ve been turned to glass before the mushroom cloud fully formed over one American target.

    While Israel has a more modest nuclear arsenal, no one doubts how swiftly they would use it to retaliate to a nuclear attack.

    Anyone in Congress old enough to remember MAD–Mutually Assured Destruction–knew that not only the evidence but the premise of the case against Iraq was childish nonsense.

    Further proof that the case was a cynical lie is that the same neocon sociopaths are now telling us we DON’T need to worry about Russia’s nuclear arsenal that’s roughly the same size as ours even as we attempt to curb stomp them in their own front yard.

    If we had a true democracy, the architects of the Iraq War and their patrons would be in prison or long since turned over to the tender mercies of their victims in the Middle East NOT trying to lie us into a World War.

  11. shmutzoid
    March 19, 2023 at 17:22

    Thank goodness for the likes of Ray McGovern and VIPS. The kind of information/analysis we should expect from mainstream news outlets is left to a mere handful of independent journalists, as well as ‘those in the know’, like McGovern, who relay an informed perspective and relevant context to issues and events.

    To those who were already out from under the influence of corporate ‘news’ it was easily apparent how the decision to invade/bomb Iraq was a foregone conclusion. The PR campaign to “fix the facts to support the policy” was all that was needed for fig leaf justification. Western corporate media did its part to propagandize the hell out of us. …..NO ONE has ever been held accountable for the immense amount of death and destruction brought on by that ILLEGAL war and occupation.
    ………..; Sadly, the US public is still zombified by the same MSM. We are sleep-walking in to all-out war with Russia, while preparations for war with China are well under way. ………… The people are kept in the dark and that’s that. We are expected to jump to attention and salute the flag screeching USA! USA! USA! over any and all militarism. It’s gotten to the point where if you ask any questions about it or express doubts, you are castigated as being ‘unpatriotic’. Such is the degree of group think cultivated by the entire corporate media culture. ………. in a yearly survey, tens of thousands of randomly selected people around the world are asked. “Which country is most responsible for instability in the world?” …… USA ALWAYS comes out #1. USA! USA! USA!

  12. Drew Hunkins
    March 19, 2023 at 16:05

    It’s interesting that on the week of the 20th anniversary of one of the most disgusting crimes against humanity, our powers-that-be are set to perp walk Trump — definitely an imperfect president, no doubt, yet the only one over the past 35 years who did not start a major military conflagration.

    This confluence of events being the case, we better also see Cheney, Bush Jr, Clinton, Obama, and Biden behind bars for the rest of their lives for all the buckets of blood they’re drenched in. Throw in their top foreign policy advisors and rabid media lapdogs too. Let’s go, round ’em up.

  13. Lois Gagnon
    March 19, 2023 at 14:46

    Clapper is a useful tool for empire and is guilty of ethnic hatred. Exactly the opposite of the type of person needed to perform honest intelligence.

  14. Robert Emmett
    March 19, 2023 at 12:53

    So, VeepCreep Cheney puts out the big lie in public at the VFW. Then the hand-picked, so-called intelligence report by which to judge its veracity has to be massaged so as not to contradict that lie. A two-fer! Selling the lie & covering the liars’ asses with the flag at the same time.

    Yea, in this Land of Nod, the devolution from Iraqi mushroom cloud to Russian hacking of our so-called democratic system to the Red Menace’s “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine has only grown more blatant & grotesque.

    Thanks for calling out the impunity of these fraudsters and their legions of co-conspirators. It’s not that hard to imagine where the next downward spiral may take us.

  15. Bill Todd
    March 19, 2023 at 12:23

    I suspect that your concluding comment about having avoided a possible jail sentence may refer to Clapper’s having admitted to lying under oath to Congress. It’s also good to have noted that the Obama administration had no more compunctions about using false intelligence claims to cook the books for the American public than the Bush/Cheney administration did: so much for ‘hope and change’ and the subsequent continuing intentional polarization of the voting public.

  16. mgr
    March 19, 2023 at 08:38

    Thank you. An extraordinary and timely history of our democratic institutions and tax dollars working to keep us safe… Anyone feel safer..?

    And a good look at the heart of darkness that has grown, taken over and now, completely unhinged, is running the US government. Distorted, mentally ill individuals want war and they use the power they have been granted to create it.

    I don’t seen any difference between them and murderers except that they are walking around free and open, and flaunting it. This is America’s shame and a clear disqualification to being the “leader of the world.” What a sick joke that has become.

    And nothing has changed from then until now. It’s only worse (and again thank you, Mr. Feckless Obama, for “look forward not back,” always pragmatic in your own self-interest, and enshrining this insanity for all time).

    America has now fomented another despicable war of choice using the same techniques. Scott Ritter expects that by the end as many as 500,000 Ukrainians could be dead; a nation and culture, lives and livelihoods destroyed, all to provide a sick fix for the neocon madness of few. Thanks to them, America is lost as well. The longer it goes on the bigger the bill that comes due. The only solution is to out the madness and excise it. It’s become a matter of survival because they are mad and cannot stop.

  17. Ed Rickert
    March 19, 2023 at 08:20

    Dear Ray.
    Thank you so much for your masterful summary of the events leading up to the Iraq War and for your efforts to inform us of the lies that justify our aggression again the peace. What is most amazing is how gullible the American people are to the lies pushed by the snake oil
    salesmen masquerading as journalists and statesmen. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that these promotors of the lie are rewarded rather than punished.

  18. Valerie
    March 19, 2023 at 04:39

    And remember Hans Blix. Here is a short excerpt from a Britannica biography about Mr. Blix and his role as UN weapons inspector:

    “In June 2003 Blix issued a report that said the UN inspectors had found no evidence of WMD in Iraq but urged the United States to allow UN inspectors into occupied Iraq to continue their work. The request was met with strong resistance from the U.S. government. Choosing not to extend his term with UNMOVIC, Blix retired on June 30, 2003. He subsequently wrote Disarming Iraq (2004), which included harsh criticism of the Bush administration and its actions leading up to the invasion of Iraq. In July 2003 Blix became the executive chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Committee, an autonomous international organization based in Sweden.”

    (I believe Mr. Blix was not allowed to complete his inspections in Iraq before the invasion, as far as i remember.)

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