Fox's The Five Distorts History On Bush Administration WMD Claims

The hosts of Fox News' The Five distorted the history behind the rationale for the U.S. war in Iraq by reshaping an investigative report by the New York Times.

Investigative Report Detailing Casualties Of Iraq's Chemical Weapons Released By The New York Times

NYT: Government Played Down Dangers And Withheld Evidence Of Chemical Weapons. The New York Times reported on October 15 that the American government withheld information about discoveries of  “long-abandoned” chemical weapons programs in Iraq. The report stated that in 2004, a government analysis of Iraq's weapons programs played down dangers and that U.S. soldiers exposed to nerve agents received “substandard medical care” : 

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West. [The New York Times, 10/14/14]

Fox's The Five Uses The NYT Report To Misrepresent Bush Administration's Rationale For The Iraq War

Dana Perino: George W. Bush Never Said We Went To War Over A New Weapons Program. Co-host Dana Perino claimed that The New York Times was “trying to rewrite history” by attempting to convince people “that George W. Bush went to war thinking that Saddam Hussein had a new weapons program.” Perino then declared “he never said that.” [Fox News, The Five, 10/15/14]

Eric Bolling: "Don't Say They Went To War For Weapons Of Mass Destruction." Eric Bolling echoed Perino, saying, “who cares if there was a weapon of mass destruction or not. [Saddam Hussein] was bad, he killed his own people.” When Bob Beckel questioned whether that means we should go to war with all bad people, Bolling clarified, "Fine, have that debate, but don't say they went to war for weapons of mass destruction. [Fox News, The Five, 10/15/14]

Bob Beckel: “They Didn't Go To War For A New Program” But Because They Had "The Ability To Build" WMD.  Bob Beckel claimed that “Colin Powell went to the UN and said that there is the, they have the ability to build these things,” not because there was a new weapons program.  [Fox News, The Five, 10/15/14]

In Reality, The Bush Administration's Rationale For Invading Iraq Depended On Claim Of An Active Weapons Program

New York Times: Bush Insisted That Iraq Was Hiding An Active Weapons Program. In its report, The New York Times clarified that the discovery of the old chemical weapons “did not support the government's invasion rationale” :

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

[...]

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world's risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims. [The New York Times10/15/14]

Washington Post: The Bush Administration "Staked Its WMD Claims On An Active, On-Going Program." The Washington Post fact checked whether the NYT report reflected what the Bush administration claimed about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, pointing out that the Times report says the “weapons were manufactured before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait,”  but the Bush administration “staked its WMD claims on an active, on-going program that was restarted after the Kuwait conflict.”  [The Washington Post10/15/14]

President Bush: Iraq "Possesses and Produces Chemical And Biological Weapons." In a 2002 speech President Bush claimed that Iraq had violated its obligation to “destroy its weapons of mass destruction” and “to cease all development of such weapons.” He went on to state that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.” Bush also asserted that “surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons.”  [White House Archives, 10/7/02]

Colin Powell: Iraq's Deadly Weapons Programs Are A "Real And Present" Danger. In a speech to the United Nations Security Council in 2003, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State at the time, argued that weapons programs in Iraq were an imminent threat:

The facts on Iraqis' behavior - Iraq's behavior demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort -- no effort -- to disarm as required by the international community. Indeed, the facts and Iraq's behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.

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The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and describe why they are real and present dangers to the region and to the world. [The Guardian, 2/5/03]