Okay, the White House has now finally engaged the debate over the exaggerations, misleading claims and falsehoods by which it led the nation to war. So we need the facts on the table. And this is an effort that is perfectly suited to refereed collective online research.
So here's what I propose.
What is needed is a list of specifics. Specific dates, specific statements and specific explanations of context, intent and consequence.
I would propose a few broad categories and we'll likely add to these or refine them as we go. First, instance, the 'smoking gun' and 'mushroom cloud' line wasn't a lie because it didn't assert any factual claim. I'd call it a "reckless exaggeration", given the facts we knew at the time.
Or how about the repeated claims that Saddam "supported terrorists". When asked to provide evidence for this, White House spokespeople will often point to the fact that Saddam offered financial support to the families of dead suicide bombers from the West Bank and Gaza. In other cases, they'll note that has-been uber-secular-terrorist Abu Nidal was living in Baghdad before the war. In both cases, you can say this counts as 'supporting terrorists'. But the point of these statements was to convey the impression that Saddam had and was supporting the terrorists we're fighting now, Islamist terrorists and specifically al Qaida. So I'd categorize claims like these as "intentionally misleading statements".
Then we get to statements like the one Dick Cheney made when he claimed that we'd neither been able to confirm or discredit claims that Mohammad Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague not long before the attacks. I think we can say this was a straight up "lie". Several US intelligence agencies had looked into this. And each had come back either not believing the claim or with specific and solid evidence to refute it. So Cheney was just lying. And of course there was an even larger meta-lie here or intentional deception since Cheney was trying to send the message that there was reason to believe Iraq played a role in the 9/11 attacks.
In any case, we'll likely need to refine these categories and perhaps expand them. But the key is precision and a systematic effort to distinguish among and categorize the various degrees and techniques of Bush White House mendacity and bamboozlement.
What we need from you is to send in examples. For the sake of simplicity and focus we'll restrict the possible speakers to the president, the vice-president, cabinet secretaries, the president's press secretary and the national security advisor. We'll write them up on the site and then collect and organize them on a separate page for easy reference.
Send your emails to the regular comment email address linked up on the upper right hand side of the site. Use the subject line "Road to War". Then give us a specific quote you think qualifies as some breed of exaggeration, misleading statement or lie. We'll need the specific quote, a date, the speaker, and a link or citation to verify it.
It should not be difficult to compile a long, long list.