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Victory at Last?

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Reprinted from Truthout

Take a moment with this.

That is the cover of Newsweek from the first week of March, the month in which we will mark the seventh anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was 2,555 days ago this Saturday, in fact, when televisions all across America lit up with the pyrotechnic images of "Shock and Awe," when explosions and fire roared over the city of Baghdad, when men, women and children were incinerated, when we all became war criminals whether we liked it or not.

The article behind that triumphalist cover argued that this last election in Iraq is proof positive our war has at long last borne the fruits of true democracy in that nation, wiping the bloody slate clean and expunging all the grievous errors and tragedies which preceded it. A nice storyline, that, but it's one we've heard a number of times before. Remember the ink-stained fingers held up by Iraqis after one such election? Those who pushed for war declared that to be Victory at Last, too. It wasn't. Neither is this.

A lot of people have a great deal invested in rewriting the history of our attack on Iraq. The media, of course, would like the whole thing to go away; their for this bloody debacle ("Navy SEALS rawk!" saith Katie Couric; "We're all neo-cons now!" saith Chris Matthews) was the lubrication that made this death machine hum so efficiently for so long. Were they in it for the money? MSNBC is owned by General Electric, one of the defense contractors that profited wildly from the war.

The motivation to change the storyline for those in power who pushed this war upon us all is no less transparent than the media's. Recall how we got here. As the now-infamous Downing Street Memo clearly indicated, the Bush administration was in collusion with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, almost a year before the invasion of Iraq was undertaken, to "fix the facts around the policy" of invasion based on the threat of weapons of mass destruction in order to fabricate a pretense for war. This fact was confirmed by none other than Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in a May 2003 interview with Vanity Fair, in which he said, "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

The final nail in Iraq's coffin was hammered in by George W. Bush during his State of the Union address on January 20, 2003. This was a presidential act of terrorism against the American people, make no mistake, for its purpose was to frighten the citizens of this nation into following a course of action that was against their best interests and would come to no good end for anyone except the few who would prosper financially from the war to come. Mr. Bush, in the most ominous tones, told the American people that Iraq was in possession of 26,000 liters of anthrax; 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; 500 tons - which is one million pounds - of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent; 30,000 missiles to deliver the stuff; mobile biological weapons labs; al-Qaeda connections and uranium from Niger for use in a robust nuclear weapons program.

This monstrous, outrageous lie was followed and preceded by many like it:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."
- Dick Cheney, vice president
Speech to VFW National Convention, 8/26/2002

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"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
- Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser
CNN "Late Edition," 9/8/2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."
- George W. Bush, president
Speech to the UN General Assembly, 9/12/2002

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas."
- George W. Bush, president
Speech, Cincinnati, Ohio, 10/7/2002

"If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."
- Ari Fleischer, press secretary
Press briefing, 12/2/2002

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there."
- Ari Fleischer, press secretary
Press briefing, 1/9/2003

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"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
- George W. Bush, president
Address to the nation, 3/17/2003

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
- Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense
ABC interview, 3/30/2003

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now."
- Colin Powell, secretary of state
Remarks to reporters, 5/4/2003

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William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.

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