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US President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants lied to the American public about the non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat supposedly posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as well as his links to Al Qaeda to justify Iraq war. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, has conceded the Bush administration publicly misrepresented intelligence related to Iraq’s supposed WMD program and Saddam’s alleged links to Al Qaeda. Morell helped prepare daily intelligence briefings for Bush preceding the US invasion of Iraq.
Morell said Cheney gave out false information, both on the connection between Saddam Hussein’s regime and Al Qaeda, and on Iraq’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. In fact Syria’s Bashar Assad, sitting just next door to Iraq, was in possession of chemical weapons and wasn’t invaded. So the Iraq war was not a mistake but a crime? Indeed, Bush was hell-bent on revenge against Saddam Hussein, as evident in his statement a month before the report, “After all, this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.”
Matthews played a clip of Cheney speaking on NBC‘s Meet the Press in March 2003: “We know[Saddam Hussein] has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” Here is Matthews’ conversation with Morell that followed:
MATTHEWS: You’re the briefer for the president on intelligence. You’re the top person to go in and tell him what’s going on. You see Cheney make this charge he’s got a nuclear bomb and then they make subsequent charges he’s knew how to deliver it … and nobody raised their hand and said, “No that’s not what we told him.”
MORELL: Chris, Chris Chris, what’s my job, right? My job —
MATTHEWS: To tell the truth.
MORELL: My job — no, as the briefer? As the briefer?
MATTHEWS: OK, go ahead.
MORELL: As the briefer, my job is to carry CIA’s best information and best analysis to the president of the United States and make sure he understands it. My job is to not watch what they’re saying on TV and say —
MATTHEWS: You think TV’s a joke?
MATTHEWS: You think it’s a joke that Cheney said that?
MORELL: That’s not my job. That’s not my job.
MATTHEWS: Did you know he did that?
MORELL: No, I wasn’t paying attention, I was studying what was on my desk every morning.
MATTHEWS: So you’re briefing the president on the reasons for war, they’re selling the war, using your stuff, saying you made that case when you didn’t. So they’re using your credibility to make the case for war dishonestly, as you just admitted.
MORELL: Look, I’m just telling you —
MATTHEWS: You just admitted it.
MORELL: I’m just telling you what we said —
MATTHEWS: They gave a false presentation of what you said to them.
MORELL: On some aspects. On some aspects.
Matthews later quizzed Morell on the Bush administration’s implication that Iraq was connected to Al Qaeda:
MORELL: What they were saying about the link between Iraq and al Qaeda publicly was not what the intelligence community —
MATTHEWS: Why were they doing it?
MORELL: I don’t know, you need to ask them.
MATTHEWS: But what do you think is the reason, do I have to tell you the reason? To get us into the freaking war!
MORELL: I think they were trying to make a stronger case for the war.