White House Contests AP Article on Shifting Explanations for War

By: E&P Staff

In recent weeks, the White House has grown increasingly aggressive in responding directly to what it feels are unfair or allegedly error-strewn articles in the press, with electronic mailings and postings at its Web site. Recently, for example, it responded forcefully to revelations in the Bob Woodward book., “State of Denial.”

The latest example is a reply to a widely published Associated Press article over the weekend (also posted on E&P Online) that charted the president’s changing emphasis on the main reasons we went to war in Iraq, and remain there.

The response follows. The question, however, remains: While it’s true that Bush always mentioned multiple reasons for the war, what did he really emphasize at the time?

Here is the response.

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–“When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, Bush shifted his war justification to one of liberating Iraqis from a brutal ruler. After Saddam’s capture in December 2003, the rationale became helping to spread democracy through the Middle East.” (Tom Raum, “Bush Keeps Revising War Justification,” The Associated Press, 10/14/06)

President Bush Has Consistently Pointed To Liberating Iraqis From A Brutal Ruler, Including Before The War. THE PRESIDENT: “Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained – by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning.” (President Bush, State Of The Union Address, 1/28/03)

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 Deplored That The “Government Of Iraq Has Failed To Comply With Its Commitments … To End Repression Of Its Civilian Population And To Provide Access By International Humanitarian Organizations To All Those In Need Of Assistance In Iraq.” (United Nations Security Council, Resolution 1441, 11/8/02)

President Bush Has Consistently Emphasized The Importance Of Spreading Democracy In The Middle East, Including Before The War. THE PRESIDENT: “The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a better life. … A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.” (President Bush, Remarks, Washington, DC, 2/26/03)

–The Associated Press Alleges The President Calls Iraq The “Central Front” In The War On Terror For Political Purposes. (Tom Raum, “Bush Keeps Revising War Justification,” The Associated Press, 10/14/06)

The Terrorists Consider Iraq “The Central Battlefield” In The War On Terror. THE PRESIDENT: “But they’ve made clear that the most important front in their struggle against America is Iraq – the nation bin Laden has declared the ‘capital of the Caliphate.’ Hear the words of bin Laden: ‘I now address… the whole… Islamic nation: Listen and understand… The most… serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War… [that] is raging in [Iraq].’ He calls it ‘a war of destiny between infidelity and Islam.’ He says, ‘The whole world is watching this war,’ and that it will end in ‘victory and glory or misery and humiliation.’ For al Qaeda, Iraq is not a distraction from their war on America – it is the central battlefield where the outcome of this struggle will be decided.” (President Bush, Remarks, Washington, DC, 9/5/06)

As Early As February 1998, Osama Bin Laden Made It Clear That He Not Only Intended To Wage War On The United States, But He Wanted To Use Iraq As A Central Battleground. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TONY SNOW: “From his fatwa, on February 23, 1998, he complained that ‘for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam and the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning bases in the peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.'” (Tony Snow, Press Briefing, Washington, DC, 9/27/06)

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