Anthony Gregory writes:
In 2002 and early 2003, the Bush administration made its case for war with Iraq. There were assertions given about Saddam’s maintenance of weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda. What was never said explicitly, however, was that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Yet by late 2003, seventy percent of polled Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally behind 9/11. Bush’s Republican voters were especially convinced of this.
Yet Bush and his officials never said this. And after the multiple disasters of the Iraq war began to present themselves with great clarity, the Bush officials were questioned about their pre-war intel. Yet they could say, strictly speaking, one thing they never claimed was Saddam was behind 9/11.
Condoleezza Rice had said something about the attacks originating in the same region or area as Iraq. There was all sorts of insinuation that Saddam might have been involved. And surely the Bush team never put an ounce of effort into disabusing the American people of the completely false notion that Saddam was behind 9/11. The vast majority of Americans believed it—indeed, at times, more Americans thought Saddam was behind the attacks than believed the Iraq War was just!—yet it was not only completely untrue, but not directly rooted in any explicit assertion given by the administration. Various pro-war commentators had said it, but Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell—none of them ever did.
Fast forward a decade to the current day. Seventy-one percent of Americans—almost exactly the percentage that thought Saddam was behind 9/11—think that Iran has nuclear weapons. It’s a small sample, but it is consistent with polls over the last couple years, each one showing a majority believing Iran already has nukes, and almost nine out of ten Americans sure that Iran is seeking them.
Indeed, talking with “respectable” liberals—the type who listen to NPR and watch Jon Stewart—I find repeatedly that even folks who don’t want to go to war assume that every reasonable American knows that Iran is on the brink of having nukes, if the regime doesn’t already have them.
What’s bizarre about this, other than the fact that there is no credible evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons, is that no one in a position of official authority is claiming it either! Every report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, even when framed in a way to make Iran seem ominous, confirms the “non-diversion” of nuclear materials to weaponization purposes. The CIA and intelligence community have consistently stood by the National Intelligence Estimate findings that Iran has not sought a nuclear weapon since 2003 (and Iran doing so back then is only suspected based on very scant evidence produced by the Israeli government).
Read the rest of Anthony Gregory’s “Insinuation as War Propaganda.”