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Facts refute war-makers' charges

Answers to those much-repeated lies

By Greg Butterfield

In their headlong rush to war against Iraq, President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Co. have told big lies and repeated them frequently.

These lies get front-page headlines and prime time. Even when they are refuted by expert authorities, the same newspapers, television and radio networks either ignore them altogether or consign the infor mation to an obscure place or time, seldom to be repeated.

So as a public service to the millions of people who oppose the war, who are on the front lines and spreading the anti-war message at work or home, in school or the barracks, Workers World has brought together some of Washington's most egregious lies--and facts to refute them.

The truth is that the Bush administration and Corporate America are liars and aggressors. The anti-war movement needs to understand that the Iraqi people have every right to defend themselves from those who would rob their sovereignty.

Otherwise the movement risks barreling down the losing road embodied in the slogan "win without war"-that is, conceding to Bush's argument that Iraq "should" be disarmed and re-colonized, just in a different way.

THE CHARGE:
Iraq is about to produce nuclear weapons, or already has them.

"A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the UN's chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions," wrote the March 8 Washing ton Post.

"Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed 'not authentic' after careful scrutiny by UN and independent experts, Mohammed ElBara dei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the UN Security Council.

"ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim-made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday-that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

"Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors," the Post reported.

The IAEA chief said flatly, "There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

The Post added, "Doubts about [the] claims began to emerge shortly after UN inspectors returned to Iraq last November." By January, the IAEA had concluded that the 81-mm tubing sought by Iraq wasn't suitable for nuclear weapons production, and was intended for use in conventional artillery rockets.

Just what the Iraqis had said all along.

David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said, "Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes."

Powell was forced to acknowledge that documents provided by British intelligence purporting to prove that Iraq had been trying to buy uranium were fakes. But he then claimed the United States had "new" evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Will anyone get the chance to examine it before the bombs start falling?

THE CHARGE:
Iraq has other weapons of mass destruction.

To the Bush administration's dismay, on March 7 UN weapons inspection chief Hans Blix reported that Iraq was "proactively" cooperating with inspectors. He said the inspections could be fully completed and would "not take years, nor weeks, but months."

So far there was no evidence that Iraq held proscribed weapons, said Blix.

In February, the world learned how the famous "British dossier"-an intelligence report purporting to show that Iraq was building and hiding weapons of mass destruction--was a fraud, cobbled together from speculative articles posted on the Internet.

The 19-page report, earlier presented by Blair with great authority and gusto, included four pages lifted from an article in the September 2002 Middle East Review of International Affairs. Its author, Arab-American graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi, had never even been to Iraq.

Six more pages came from articles in 1997 and 2002 issues of Jane's Intelli gence Review.

"I found it quite startling when I realized that I'd read most of it before," Glen Rangwala, a lecturer at Cambridge Uni ver sity, told Britain's Channel 4.

"Apart from passing this off as the work of its intelligence services," Rangwala said, "it indicates that [Britain] really does not have any independent sources of information on Iraq's internal policies."

More damning evidence comes from an unlikely source--defector Hussein Kamel, Iraq's former weapons chief. The Bush administration frequently cites Kamel, who defected to the U.S. in 1995, when it claims Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

But the March 3 issue of Newsweek revealed that Kamel "told CIA and British intelligence officers and UN inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the Gulf War, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them."

The admission backs up testimony by former UN weapons inspectors-including Scott Ritter, a former U.S. Marine-that Iraq was free of WMDs by the mid-1990s.

Newsweek goes so far as to admit the report "raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist."

Recently, the White House charged that Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missiles violate their UN-authorized range of 95 miles, and therefore qualify as weapons of mass destruction. The missiles exceeded their range in 17 out of 40 test firings.

Baghdad agreed to destroy the missiles as a show of good faith to the UN. So far Iraq has destroyed over 25 percent in full view of inspectors. But U.S. officials scoff and send more troops to kill or be killed.

"The U.N. weapons inspectors' verification of Iraq's destruction of missiles, private meetings with Iraqi weapons scientists, visits to locations where biological and chemical weapons were destroyed in 1991 and a series of unfettered flights by U2 spy planes have been met with a shrug and sneer in Washington," said Robert Scheer in a March 4 Los Angeles Times commentary.

"The arrogance is breathtaking," Scheer continued. "We have demanded that a country disarm-and even as it is doing so, we say it doesn't matter; it's too late; we're coming in.

"Put down your guns and await the slaughter."

THE CHARGE:
Saddam Hussein collaborated in the 9/11 attacks. He's Osama bin Laden's ally.

Remember those blaring headlines claiming Iraq was behind the anthrax scare in late 2001?

When word leaked out that the anthrax came from a U.S. military facility in Maryland, the story virtually disappeared from the corporate media.

There's no evidence tying the Iraqi government to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, either. But that hasn't stopped Bush & Co. from repeating this big lie over and over, hoping people will believe it.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, outlining his opposition to Bush's current strategy in a March 8 New York Times column, admitted, "American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing."

The March 9 New York Times, in a lead editorial titled "Saying No to War," declared: "Despite endless efforts by the Bush administration to connect Iraq to Sept. 11, the evidence simply isn't there. The administration has demonstrated that Iraq had members of Al Qaeda living within its borders, but that same accusation could be lodged against any number of American allies in the region."

The stereotyped presentation of Arab people by the U.S. media bolsters the false idea that all Arabs have the same outlook and are united in some grand "terrorist" conspiracy. But of course, this too is a lie. There are distinct class, ideological and political differences in the Arab world, as there are everywhere. Bin Laden, a religious fundamentalist, has little in common with Saddam Hussein, a bourgeois nationalist.

In February, attempting to whip up war hysteria, the U.S. corporate media aired portions of a tape recording purportedly made by Osama bin Laden. But some parts of the tape were censored out, like the following comment about Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Socialist Party government:

"The socialists are infidels wherever they are, either in Baghdad or Aden. ... Such war which may take place these days is similar to the war between Muslims and Romans, when the interests of the Mus lims came along with the interest of the Persians, who both fought against the Romans." (Reported by Alexander Cock burn in The Nation, March 3)

Black journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal remarks: "If this is a 'link,' then General [Ariel] Sharon and President [Yasir] Arafat are 'linked,' if only by mutual hatred and antagonism."

THE CLAIM:
The war isn't about oil profits. It's a war of democracy vs. dictatorship.

"There are lots of business opportunities embedded in this war," gushed Michael Renner of WorldWatch Institute, a corporate think-tank. "It represents the larger oil and energy issues at stake."

Iraq has proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels--second only to Saudi Arabia. And some experts believe there's more waiting to be discovered.

Renner continued, "Regime change in Baghdad would reshuffle the cards and give U.S. and British companies a good shot at direct access to Iraqi oil fields for the first time in 30 years-a windfall worth hundreds of billions of dollars."

The March 8 San Francisco Chronicle broke the news that Kellogg Brown & Root Services "has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq's oil fields after a possible war." Kellogg Brown & Root is owned by Halliburton, the company headed by Dick Cheney before his 2000 appointment as vice president by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The contract was disclosed in the last paragraph of a Defense Department statement...," the Chronicle reported. "The statement calls for proposals on how to handle oil well fires and for assessing other damage to oil facilities."

Halliburton, the parent business, is also one of five companies bidding for a $900-million government contract to "rebuild Iraq," reported the March 10 Wall Street Journal.

The winning bidder would be responsible for repairing "economically important" roads and bridges, portions of the country's electrical grid, and other things U.S. and British monopolies need to get the oil profits flowing.

Creating democracy? Try old-fashioned, racist, out-and-out colonialism.

The Pentagon's war plan-dubbed "Operation Shock and Awe"-would drop 3,000 to 4,000 bombs and cruise missiles on Baghdad and its civilian population during the war's first 48 hours. Children under 15 make up half of Iraq's population. They will be the main victims of this "democratic" war.

And what's to follow? Bush plans to replace the Iraqi government with a colonial regime under the command of Gen. Tommy Franks and an as-yet-unnamed civilian "governor." This plan has even raised the hackles of the compliant "Iraqi opposition" allied with Washington.

We can look to Afghanistan, a nearby country already occupied by the Pentagon, for further clues: mass graves; bombing of civilian targets without reproach; prisoners of war spirited away to Guantanamo or another Pentagon base, denied their rights under international law and even tortured to the point of death.

What will become of the great strides made by women in Iraq? Even after 12 years of war and sanctions, Iraqi women still enjoy freedom and rights unknown in neighboring U.S. satellites like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

THE CLAIM: War will boost the economy.

As war fever was heating up, the official U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 5.8 percent in February. Some 308,000 jobs were lost--the biggest monthly drop since immediately after 9/11.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said, "It is probably no coincidence that job cuts jumped 151 percent last October, which is about the time that the war messages from Washington really began in earnest.

"Since then, job cuts have averaged more than 139,000 per month."

The world has come to a verdict on all these charges. It is indicting the U.S. government, not Iraq, for monumental war crimes--some already executed, others even more horrendous that are ready to be perpetrated, unless popular resistance succeeds in stopping the White House and Pentagon.

Reprinted from the March 20, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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