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article imageBush tampered with intel report saying Saddam was not a threat

By Ralph Lopez     Mar 20, 2013 in World
As an Iraq War veteran's "last letter" to George Bush and Dick Cheney goes viral on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a famed former L.A. County prosecutor continues his campaign to expose what he says are the unplumbed depths of the deception.
Former Los Angeles County prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who successfully prosecuted serial killer Charles Manson, maintains that Bush administration deceptions went even beyond its representation of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" capabilities.
SEE: Iraq War vet pens 'last letter' to Bush and Cheney
Bugliosi has long said that Bush hid evidence that Saddam was essentially a paranoid dictator whose interest in WMD was as a last-ditch self defense in case of invasion. The prosecutor says Bush and Cheney knew that Saddam never had any intention of using the weapons on America, or passing them on to others who would.
In the instances in which Saddam did use chemical weapons, in the war against Iran and against Iraqi Kurdish rebels, he was assisted and even encouraged by the US. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Iraq to seal the US alliance with Saddam on the day it was reported that Saddam was using nerve agent on Iranian soldiers. A famous photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam that day, as special Middle East envoy for President Ronald Reagan, has long circulated the Internet. The US encouraged Saddam to invade Iran after the 1979 Hostage Crisis, when Iranians overthrew the US-backed dictator.
Bugliosi's allegations center around the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the "gold standard" report preceding the war which represented the consensus of 16 US intelligence agencies on the threat posed by Saddam. Critics of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice have long maintained that the administration regularly employed falsehoods and exaggerations when they told Americans that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat, and that he might strike the US "in as little as 45 minutes" with nuclear weapons.
It is now known that Saddam had nowhere near any nuclear capability. But more importantly, says Bugliosi, the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate told the president and his team that Saddam was not inclined to use weapons of mass destruction in an offensive attack, and would likely use them only in self-defense. The report noted that Saddam understood that any use of WMD against the United States would amount to national suicide, as would the "exposure of Iraqi involvement" in any offensive attack.
But in the declassified version of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate given to Congress, these conclusions by US intelligence were deleted.
The deleted paragraphs in the summary called "Key Judgements" read:
"Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or CBW against the United States, fearing that exposure of Iraqi involvement would provide Washington a stronger cause for making war.
Iraq probably would attempt clandestine attacks against the US Homeland if Baghdad feared an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge."
At least 26 countries are presently likely in possession of WMD, which nations have come to rely on as deterrents to conventional or unconventional attack. Bugliosi says that Saddams behavior after the invasion tends to bear out that US intelligence agencies were correct in their assessment of his reluctance to use WMD for whatever reason, since if he did have WMD, he did not use them even when he was attacked.
Bugliosi says that although it has entered the political lexicon that Congress was "looking at the same intelligence," a phrase which was repeated often by Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, in fact Congress was not. Congress voted for the war on October 16, 2002, by passing the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.
The results of the US invasion are hotly disputed. Although some US news organizations are reporting, on the anniversary of the invasion, that the unemployment rate in Iraq under Saddam was 50% and is now only 15%, conflicting reports say that it is closer to 30% and higher, without the social safety nets provided by Saddam's socialist Baath Party. CBS News Radio has reported a figure of 50% unemployment under Saddam, although it is not clear how it arrives at that figure.
Moreover, the Iraqi sewage, electrical, and other infrastructure remains devastated after years of bombing attacks and the initial "shock and awe" invasion unleashed by the US. A 2010 UN report says only 26 percent of households are served by the public sewage network.
A 2012 report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says that large numbers of households received drinkable water for under two hours per day. As for electricity, an Iraqi monitoring agency reports that Iraqi households get on average 7.6 hours of electricity per day.
Such economic indicators do not take into account less-reported effects of the invasion, such as the unabated cycle of violence between factions, and daily suicide bomb attacks. The UK Guardian writes:
Civilians are still being killed at a rate of at least 4,000 a year, and police at about 1,000. As in the days when US and British forces directly ran the country, torture is rampant, thousands are imprisoned without trial, and disappearances and state killings are routine.
One thing continues to function efficiently: the flow of oil. However, even this is rife with corruption. AFP News reported this month:
Of $2.8 billion in Iraqi oil revenues handled by the US Defense Department, officials could not produce documents accounting for the use of about $1.7 billion, including $1.3 billion in fuel purchases.
Iraq is now widely considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Also little reported is the effect of years of use of depleted uranium ammunition by the US in Iraq, which causes birth defects as a result of radioactivity. Up to 75% birth deformities have been reported in areas which saw heavy combat such as Fallujah.
Under the two terms of President George W. Bush, the US debt doubled from about $5 trillion to over $10 trillion, much of this due to war costs. Economist Joe Stiglitz has estimated that the Iraq War may have cost the US as much as $5 trillion.
Bugliosi is featured in a documentary released last year in which his case and legal path for the prosecution of Bush administration officials are outlined in detail. The Prosecution of an American President has played in theaters across the US, and is based on Bugliosi's New York Times List bestseller "The Prosecution of George w. Bush for Murder."
Version of intelligence Congress was looking at, note goes from "ballistic missile" section to "Discussion"
Version of intelligence Bush was looking at, section in bold at bottom was deleted
National Intelligence Estimate 2002, Classified Version.
National Intelligence Estimate 2002, De-Classified Version.
Bugliosi Testifying Before House Judiciary Committe 'Pre-Impeachment' Hearings in Summer 2008, on Iraq National Intelligence Estimate deception
The Prosecution of an American President Documentary Trailer
More about Iraq war, Bush, bugliosi, prosecution of an american president
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