How to Tell You're Being Lied To (Iraq War Edition)

America's reasons for invading Iraq were always utter nonsense. On the 10th anniversary of the start of the war, CIO.com blogger Constantine von Hoffman spotlights some basic questions very few people were willing to ask at the time about why the United States went to war.

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My brother, an Army sergeant, returned from Iraq in 2004 after a year stationed around Fallujah. He knew the war was based on a lie long before it began but went anyway because he thought honor and duty required it. Lots of other people also knew they were being lied to, including myself and my father, who wrote a book about it called, "Hoax: Why Americans are Suckered by White House Lies." It wasn’t really hard to spot the lies. All you had to do was ask a few simple questions.

Why Was Hussein Going to Attack the United States?

The primary rationale for the war in Iraq was that it was being fought to stop Saddam Hussein from using a weapon of mass destruction against America. U.S. citizens were told at the time that he would do this because he was an evil madman. That made no sense. It was the stuff of comic books and action movies. To be clear: Hussein was a brutal, genocidal murderer who regularly committed acts of unspeakable horror. He was also someone who had managed to stay in power for decades. The actions he took were always with one goal in mind: To remain in power.

The United States had almost destroyed him once, and he knew it could and would happen again. He knew Americans were willing to invade to protect another nation’s borders. He certainly knew the United States would do far more if he ever actually attacked the country.

The administration offered many other reasons for the invasion in the run-up to the war, none of which answered the question of why the man would attack America. In fact each subsequent explanation just threw more doubt on the earlier ones. If there was a valid reason for going to war U.S. leaders would not have needed to cite all the other reasons.

How Was Hussein Going to Attack Us?

Americans were told Hussein was trying to build either a nuclear or chemical weapon to use against the United States. Having one or both of them wasn’t enough, though. He would still have to get them to American shores. How was he going to do that?

The United States knew he didn’t have anything like an intercontinental ballistic missile, so he clearly wasn’t going to use the method preferred by America, Russia and China. Then there were the stories about small, "suitcase nukes" that could be smuggled in on ships or airplanes. It is far, far harder to build a small nuclear weapon than it is to build a large one and the Iraqis hadn’t even managed that. The same holds true for chemical weapons.

That was all you had to ask in order to determine the truth of the arguments for war put out by George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and the rest of the bunch.

These men are the chief criminals here, but let’s not forget that they received a lot of help. Of the 550 members of Congress only 156 voted against the war, and seven of those were Republicans with an enlarged sense of integrity. All the rest will tell you they voted in favor because they were lied to.

Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey said this of his vote:

"Ten years ago, the Bush administration perpetrated a fraud on Congress and the American people and launched an invasion into Iraq even though the administration knew that there were no nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. As a result, we fought a conflict that cost thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and untold damage."

Anyone who uses this excuse leaves only two possible explanations for their behavior: Either they are idiots or they are lying.

With the notable exception of the McClatchy newspapers and a few rare individuals, the media also unquestioningly repeated every lie it was told. Judith Miller of The New York Times should always be mentioned in this instance. She was head of the paper’s D.C. bureau, and most if not all of its stories on the subject were either grossly inaccurate or plain old fiction.

I’d like to think Americans learned something from all this, but the truth is they haven't. Maybe you'll learn something from this post. But I doubt it.

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