The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit news organization devoted to transparent, honest reporting on public issues, has issued a new report outlining what it terms “deceptions” by the Bush administration surrounding the war in Iraq. The report cites 935 instances of public deception surrounding the war in Iraq by the President and his closest officials. The Center for Public Integrity has compiled all 935 recorded deceptions into a browsable and searchable database available at their website.
The alleged deceptions listed in the report center around two basic themes. Those themes are Iraq’s alleged connection to Al Qaeda and Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. These twin themes were used as the justification for the United States going to war against Iraq. This article will highlight and evaluate four of the Bush administration’s many assertions reported in The Center’s report. These four evaluations are representative of the many assertions made by the US government prior to and during the Iraq war.
President Bush directly accused Saddam Hussein and Iraq of developing weapons of mass destruction. “We know he’s been developing weapons of mass destruction,”  Bush said in a prime-time news conference held on October 11, 2001. Bush was responding to a question about the possibility of expanding military operations outside of Afghanistan.
President Bush continued this theme, asserting in a September 28, 2002 national radio address that “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given.” 
Bush clearly used Hussein’s supposed possession and attempted propagation of weapons of mass destruction to justify a full-scale invasion of Iraq. But were these allegations concerning weapons of mass destruction true? In the years since the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has yet to be able to produce any credible evidence of large-scale weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The government’s claim to a large-scale program to develop weapons of mass destruction remains unsubstantiated to this day.
In a related allegation concerning Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, President Bush announced their discovery during European tour that included Poland. During an interview in Poland Bush said, “We found the weapons of mass destruction” . This reported discovery was a reference to two trailers that had been discovered by the military. The trailers were initially thought to be mobile labs for the production of weapons.
What was the outcome of this discovery? The trailers turned out to be less exciting than originally thought. The trailers are now believed to have contained hydrogen for use with weather balloons .
President Bush also explicitly accused Saddam Hussein of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, even going so far as to cite a recent attempt to purchase uranium. Bush said the following in his 2003 “State of the Union” address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide” .
The prospect of nuclear weapons in the hand of a ruthless dictator with ties to terrorist organizations is certainly cause for concern. Did Iraq possess nuclear weapons, or was the country in the process of manufacturing nuclear weapons? According to President Bush Iraq was a great threat to United States security and posed an immanent nuclear threat. However, the alleged British intelligence report was quickly found to be false and no substantive evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program has ever been put forward.
The Bush administration also made much of an alleged connection between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Al Qaeda terrorists. Bush posited the connection this way: “Al Qaeda hides, Saddam doesn’t, but the danger is, is that they work in concert. The danger is, is that Al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam’s madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world. Both of them need to be dealt with. The war on terror, you can’t distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror. And so it’s a comparison that is–I can’t make because I can’t distinguish between the two, because they’re both equally as bad, and equally as evil, and equally as destructive” . According to the President, Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are indistinguishable and “work in concert.”
Considering the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States a working partnership between Iraq and Al Qaeda would be a serious security threat to the United States. However, like in the other examples above, President Bush’s statements here also prove to be unsubstantiated and exaggerated. According to a statement made by CIA Director George Tenet on September 17, 2002, Iraq and Al Qaeda were cooperative but were not known to actually work together or participate in joint missions. Tenet told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “The intelligence indicates that the two sides at various points have discussed safe-haven, training, and reciprocal non-aggression. There are several reported suggestions by Al Qaeda to Iraq about joint terrorist ventures, but in no case can we establish that Iraq accepted or followed up on these suggestions” .
Tenet’s testimony before the Senate mirrors other reports, including those issued by the 9/11 Commission. Despite early administration assertions that Iraq and Al Qaeda were joint partners in the “war on terror” against the United States, the evidence simply does not support the allegations. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was certainly friendly towards Al Qaeda terrorists but no evidence has ever been obtained to suggest that Hussein had advance knowledge of, or participation in, the September 11 attacks against the United States.
Whether the United States should have engaged in a war with Iraq is one question. Regardless of one’s position on that war though the evidence is clear that the Bush administration systematically misrepresented the justification for war to Congress and to the entire country. This leaves only two options available for explaining how this happened. Either the Bush administration is so incompetent that they were not able to sort out fact from fiction or the Bush administration intentionally misrepresented the case for war. Neither option is comforting.
 President George Bush, “President Holds Prime Time News Conference”, The White House
 President George Bush, “Radio Address by the President to the Nation”, The White House
 President George Bush, “Interview of the President by TVP, Poland”, The White House
 Bob Woodward, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), page 210
 President George Bush, “President Delivers State of the Union”, The White House
 President George Bush, “President Bush, Columbia President Uribe Discuss Terrorism”, The White House
 George Tenet from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on Postwar Findings About Iraq’s WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare With Prewar Assessments (U.S. Senate, September 8, 2006), pages 65–66