Let Hell Come After That

How the United States Got Into the Mess in Iraq

It is now clear how the administration arrived at some of its faulty conclusions about the Iraq war, and how the process itself was flawed. In fact, the process, including intelligence collection, its presentation to the American public and Congress, and Congress’s reluctance to engage in honest debate over the information presented, are to blame for many of the mistakes made in planning for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

Americans must ask: How could this have happened? Common Cause will be doing just that in the next report in our Holding Power Accountable series, scheduled to be released early next week.

The report will focus on the following miscalculations and deceptions:

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction (WMD)

Saddam Hussein’s relationship with al-Qaeda and, by extension, its connection to the attacks of September 11, was a reason to invade Iraq

The number of troops needed to secure Iraq and the duration of their stay would be minimal

The cost of the war and of the reconstruction would be affordable, even with massive tax cuts and rapidly increasing national debt

Iraqi civilian’s would respond with celebrations of the American occupying forces

The Iraqi infrastructure was essentially sound and the ability of Iraqis to fund reconstruction projects – mainly through oil revenues – would minimize the need for U.S. funding

The invasion and democratizing of Iraq would put a damper on the breeding grounds of terrorism in the Middle East and worldwide

The situation in Iraq could have been different. But the government ignored warnings from a variety of internal and external sources about the risks involved. It did not fully appreciate the problems an invasion would create and was unwilling to allow alternative perspectives or dissenting voices to be heard.

When a democracy goes to war, it is critical that the public be part of the decision – not deciding tactics or strategy, etc., but engaging in debate about the reasons for the war. There should be robust debate in Congress and to the extent possible, the Administration should share important information with the public. And it should tell the truth. One lesson from the nation’s experience in Vietnam is that deception will be discovered and will undermine public support for the war. An illegitimate war, born in deception, will have an enduring corrosive effect on our nation.

Our report will examine how the Bush Administration selectively chose intelligence to build up and hype its case for war in Iraq, and how it totally disregarded information that directly refuted its claims and justifications for this disastrous mission in Iraq.

Please stay tuned.