Drumroll. The number of discrete, individual lies (also known as false statements) in the argument the White House presented during the runup to the war in Iraq is 935, according to War Card, a comprehensive analysis the Center for Public Integrity published yesterday.
The poetic balance of Bush’s obfuscation is that his argument was not, at bottom, about WMDs themselves, but that Saddam Hussein was lying about them. The White House Web site still hosts a dedicated banner to their theme, Iraq: Denial and Deception. The War in Iraq was launched to hold someone accountable for not telling the truth. What they wanted, they said, was for him to come clean. The lie was: ‘He lacks honesty.’
Some quotes, not from the CPI, just for flavor.
“It was absurd to subject her to this passion for truth, an Occidental passion, like the passion for alcohol.”
-Graham Greene, The Quiet American
“Don’t get upset when a family lies to you about one of its members’ committing a crime, those at the Marine meeting advised, in an admonition unusual for an institution that places great value on truth telling: ‘This is not an attempt to cover up, it is an attempt to save the honor of the family. They know he did it. They just don’t want to lose face. This is fine, you know the truth, let the family keep its honor intact.’”
-Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
“I want them [‘countries around the world’] to understand the nature of the man who runs Iraq is the nature of a man who doesn’t tell the truth. He says he won’t have weapons of mass destruction; he’s got them. He’s not only got them, he’s used them. And he’s not only used them in his neighborhood, he’s used them on his own people. That’s the nature of the man with whom we deal. For 11 long years, he has deceived and denied.”
-GWB, December 3, 2002 [via the White House]
Update: 60 Minutes: “Saddam Hussein let the world think he had weapons of mass destruction to intimidate Iran and prevent the country from attacking Iraq” [via CNN]