June 6, 2003
FindLaw's Legal Commentary

Missing Weapons Of Mass Destruction

Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?

by John Dean

. . . Bush's statements, in chronological order, were:

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."

--United Nations Address, September 12, 2002

"Iraq has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons, and is rebuilding the facilities used to make more of those weapons."

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

-- Radio Address, October 5, 2002

"The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons."

"We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas."

"We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States."

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" - his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

--Cincinnati, Ohio Speech, October 7, 2002

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

--State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

--Address to the Nation, March 17, 2003

. . . In the three decades since Watergate, this is the first potential scandal I have seen that could make Watergate pale by comparison. . . .

To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute , which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."


Before becoming Counsel to the President of the United States in July 1970 at age 31, John Dean was Chief Minority Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, the associate director of a law reform commission, and an Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He served as Richard Nixon's White House lawyer for a thousand days, and was charged with obstruction of justice and spent four months in prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up. Dean was the first to testify about the existence of the White House taping system which eventually led to President Nixon's demise. He is the author of "Worse Than Watergate."

Sen Byrd, "Senator Byrd: The Arrogance of Power," March 19, 2003

Andrew Gumbel, "Growing Evidence of Deception by Washington," Independent (UK), April 20, 2003

Kim Sengupta and Andy McSmith, "Spies threaten Blair with 'smoking gun' over Iraq," Independent (UK), June 8, 2003

James Risen, "Captives Deny Qaeda Worked With Baghdad," New York Times, June 9, 2003

Vicki Allen, "Republicans Limit Probe of Iraq Intelligence," Washington Post, June 11, 2003

[This document contained the now infamous claim - which British prime minister Tony Blair continues to endorse - that Saddam's illicit weapons of mass destruction could be made ready in "45 minutes".--"Iraq dossier fiasco rolls on," Jane's, June 12, 2003]

[Tony Blair was charged with deliberately misleading the public over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction . . .--Ben Russell, "Exposed: Blair, Iraq and the great deception," Independent, June 18, 2003]

[George W. Bush should be impeached for his lies about Iraqi weapons.--Geov Parrish, "Impeachable Offense," Seattle Weekly, June 18-24, 2003]

[Midway through 2003, there's plenty of smoke as clear evidence emerges that President Bush and several of his top foreign policy officials lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during the lead-up to the war. In this context, impeachment is a reasonable idea. But with Congress run by Republicans - and with news media all too deferential to entrenched power - the chances of a serious investigation in Washington are very slim.--Norman Solomon, "The Media Politics Of Impeachment," Z Magazine, June 19, 2003]

Walter Pincus, "Report Cast Doubt on Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection," Washington Post, June 22, 2003

["It is sort of fascinating that you can have 100 percent certainty about weapons of mass destruction and zero certainty of about where they are," Blix said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

. . . on Monday, Blix took aim at the Bush administration's assertions that Washington needed more time to find Iraq's weapons.

"Three-and-a-half months for new inspections was a rather short time before calling it a day and especially when we now see the U.S. government is saying that, 'look, you have to have a little patience, you know these things take time.' All right,"--Grant McCool, "UN Arms Inspector Blix Criticizes U.S. Over Iraq," Reuters, June 23, 2003]

[There is no longer any serious doubt that Bush administration officials deceived us into war. The key question now is why so many influential people are in denial, unwilling to admit the obvious. . . .

In particular, there was never any evidence linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda; yet administration officials repeatedly suggested the existence of a link. Supposed evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear program was thoroughly debunked by the administration's own experts; yet administration officials continued to cite that evidence and warn of Iraq's nuclear threat.

And yet the political and media establishment is in denial, finding excuses for the administration's efforts to mislead both Congress and the public. . . .

One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?" . . .

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk - to face the truth and act on it - what will happen to our democracy?--Paul Krugman, "Denial and Deception," New York Times, June 24, 2003]

John Dean, "Why A Special Prosecutor's Investigation Is Needed To Sort Out the Niger Uranium And Related WMDs Mess," FindLaw's Legal Commentary, July 18, 2003

Francis A. Boyle, "It's About the Rule of Law: Impeaching George W. Bush," CounterPunch, July 25, 2003

Nigel Morris, "Secret emails show Iraq dossier was 'sexed up'," Independent, March 13, 2009

[ . . . to allay public suspicions about the official version of Kelly's death in July 2003, shortly after his exposure as Andrew Gilligan's source for the "sexed up" dossier allegations against the Blair government.--Michael White, "On balance, there should be an inquest into David Kelly's death: Today's letter to the Times from medical experts reopens a can of worms that was never quite shut," Guardian, August 13, 2010]

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