Right-Wing Media's Failed Attempt To Justify Iraq War With NY Times Chemical Weapons Report

Right-wing media falsely claimed that a New York Times report on old chemical weapons found in Iraq after the 2003 invasion vindicated former President George W. Bush's rationale for the Iraq war - ignoring the fact that the chemical weapons discovered predated 1991 and thus could not vindicate Bush's rationale which relied on an active, on-going chemical weapons program at the time of the invasion.

New York Times Report Details Abandoned Chemical Weapons Found By U.S. During Iraq War

NY Times: Government “Played Down The Dangers” And Withheld Evidence Of Chemical Weapons In IraqThe New York Times reported on October 14 that the American government withheld information about discoveries of a “long-abandoned” chemical weapons program in Iraq. The report stated that in 2004, a government analysis of Iraq's weapons programs played down dangers and withheld evidence of the weapons. The report also revealed the “substandard medical care” soldiers exposed to chemical agents received during their deployments. [The New York Times10/14/14]

Right-Wing Media Claim NY TimesChemical Weapons Report Justifies Bush's Rationale For Iraq Invasion

Rush Limbaugh: Chemical Weapons Report “Justified That Invasion.” On the October 17 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh argued that the discovery of old chemical weapons show that “Saddam Hussein was doing and had done pretty much everything he was being accused of that justified that invasion.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show10/17/14]

National Review Online: “Bush Did Not Lie About WMDs. They Really Existed.” In an October 16 post on National Review Online, Fox contributor Deroy Murdock wrote that newly revealed reports of chemical weapons in Iraq prove that “Bush did not lie,” saying Bush's justification for the Iraq war “actually existed”:

In fact, Bush did not lie about WMDs. They really existed -- and in enormous amounts. Moreover, they were sitting in the Iraqi desert, making U.S. GIs physically ill. (In yet another outrage, 17 soldiers reportedly were denied the medical attention or subsequent commendations that they deserved for handling these poisons. They also allegedly were told to clam up about what they saw.)

It is outrageous that the Pentagon and, apparently, Bush's political team concealed proof that America's chief casus belli actually existed. Instead, the howling hyenas of the Left were allowed to gnaw away at Bush's political corpse. [National Review Online, 10/16/14]

Fox News Hosts Iraq War Architect To Claim Report Proves Iraq Had WMD At Time Of Invasion. Bush appointee Paul Bremer appeared on the October 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom to argue that the Times' report justified Bush's rationale for the 2003 invasion. Bremer asserted that the report indeed “shows that in fact Saddam did still have weapons of mass destruction in 2003 when we invaded.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom10/15/14]

In Reality, Discovery Of Chemical Weapons Did Not Vindicate Bush's Invasion

NY Times: Chemical Weapons Discovery “Did Not Support The Government's Invasion Rationale.” In the October 14 report, the Times was clear that the weapons found had all “been manufactured before 1991,” and thus “The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government's invasion rational”:

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 discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government's invasion rationale.

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.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. [The New York Times10/14/14]

Salon: Bush Administration Officials Admitted Ancient Chemical Weapons Presence “Did Not Vindicate George W. Bush's Case For War.” Salon's Simon Maloy reported that the Bush administration expected to find the older weapons in Iraq in addition to the alleged new chemical weapons program, and that former Bush administration officials admitted that the “presence of ancient chemical weapons in Iraq did not vindicate George W. Bush's case for war.” [Salon, 10/15/14]

Wash. Post Fact Checker: Any Attempt To Use New York Times Report To Vindicate Bush “Automatically Earns Four Pinocchios.” Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler pointed out that the chemical weapons “were manufactured before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait,” and "[s]uch pre-1991 chemical-weapons shells (often empty) were found by the U.N. weapons inspectors just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq." He added that the weapons do not substantiate Bush's justification for the invasion because “the Bush administration, by contrast, staked its WMD claims on an active, on-going program that was restarted after the Kuwait conflict.” Kessler gave any claim that attempted to use the report to vindicate Bush, his lowest score for truthfulness, four “Pinocchios”:

Anyone who claims that the New York Times story vindicates George W. Bush-era claims of Iraq WMD automatically earns Four Pinocchios. [The Washington Post10/15/14]