powell declares iraq has no wmd

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    >>> During the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, we were repeatedly told by US leaders that Iraq absolutely, positively had weapons of mass destruction [read more]. The country was an immediate threat not only to its neighbors but to the entire world. It had the capability of launching WMDs within 45 minutes.

    In August 2002, Cheney insisted: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

    In a March 2003 address to the nation, Bush said: "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."

    In April 2003, Fleischer claimed: "But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about."

    In Feburary 2003, Powell said: "We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."

    But two years earlier, Powell said just the opposite. The occasion was a press conference on 24 February 2001 during Powell's visit to Cairo, Egypt. Answering a question about the US-led sanctions against Iraq, the Secretary of State said:

    We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq...

    There you have it. Less than seven months before 9/11, and less than 18 months before the drive to attack Iraq seriously revved up, the Secretary of State admitted that Iraq had no "significant capabilities" regarding WMD and was so feeble that it couldn't even threaten the countries around it with conventional military power.

    This significance of this speech was first noted by British investigative journalist John Pilger, who obtained video of Powell saying this. Pilger also notes:

    On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box".

    Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

    See the page on the State Department Website with Powell's Cairo press conference. The Memory Hole's mirror of the page.

    If anyone with access to Lexis-Nexis or a similar service can get copies of 1) Powell's 15 May 2001 Congressional testimony (the question-and-answer portion) or 2) Rice's July 2001 full statement about keeping arms from Hussein, please send them.

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