January/February 2004

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Last February, as President Bush’s relentless push for war in Iraq reached its peak, I was having dinner with a friend, a best-selling author
long active in progressive causes, when the talk inevitably turned to the impending conflict.
“Even these guys,” he said, referring to the administration, “wouldn’t be so brazen as to
just go ahead with all this, unless they knew a lot more than they’re saying publicly. There must
be things they just can’t say for security reasons.” I was appalled to hear my friend trotting out
one of the most dangerous, discredited canards of the Vietnam era, but for a brief moment I wondered
if he might be right.

Yet now, as the truth begins to emerge, the full extent of the painful parallels
to Vietnam are becoming clear. For not only are U.S. soldiers bogged down in the proverbial
quagmire, but the Bush administration’s rationale for war is being exposed as a shameful
fraud. As we now know, the administration had no additional evidence that might have justified
invading Iraq, and the case they presented to the world was filled with bogus information and outright
lies. Remember the aluminum tubes that Iraq planned to use to enrich uranium for nuclear warheads?
Turns out that they were for making rocket casings, as the Iraqis had claimed, and were, in the words
of a top official of the U.S.-led inspections team, “innocuous.” Remember the contention that
Iraq had sought uranium from an African nation (later identified as Niger), a charge that made its
way into the president’s 2003 State of the Union address? It was based on documents so blatantly
bogus that it’s difficult to believe any intelligence officer could have taken them seriously.
And then, of course, there were the false claims about ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 — one
of Dick Cheney’s favorite myths, which even Bush ultimately acknowledged was unsupported
by any evidence.

So where did all these exaggerated claims and false information come
from, and how did they make their way into the speeches of the president and the vice president? As
Mother Jones contributing writer Robert Dreyfuss and Jason Vest detail in this issue’s cover story
(“The Lie Factory”), much of it was channeled through a secret Pentagon unit that was established only weeks after 9/11 and later incorporated into the Defense Department’s Office of Special
Plans. In their exclusive report, Dreyfuss and Vest reveal how this Pentagon operation — led
by a group of neoconservative hawks — funneled faulty intelligence right up to the White
House, while dismissing any reports that failed to support the case for war. “It wasn’t intelligence — it
was propaganda,” a now-retired Air Force officer who worked inside the Pentagon told Dreyfuss
and Vest. Their disturbing report provides chilling evidence that, in its zeal to invade
Iraq, the administration did indeed withhold something from the public — it withheld the
truth.
–Roger Cohn

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate