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A Framework of Lies
March 22, 2002
By birdman

The Bush administration is trying (vainly thus far) to build international support for changing the War on Terror into a more conventional war against a particular country - one that by the most striking coincidence happens to have a lot of oil and one that we fought a war with over said commodity a little more than 10 years ago. Since we're going to be inundated with reasons why the Bushies should do what they've already decided to do then I think we should examine the track record of our government (and the Bush family in particular) of telling the truth about this particular area of the world.

Remember the babies in the incubators? The story was widely circulated in the U.S. press that 300 Kuwaiti babies had been removed from incubators in a Kuwait City hospital during the Iraqi invasion in 1990. The babies, it was said were left on the floor to die. A fifteen year-old Kuwaiti girl known only as Nayirah testified before something called the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, chaired by Democrat Tom Lantos and Illinois Republican John Porter. We were told that the young lady couldn't reveal her last name because she feared reprisals against her family by the occupying Iraqis. The weeping Nayirah told a startled group of politicians how she witnessed the cruel Iraqi soldiers pulling the helpless babies out of the incubators and throwing them on the floor.

There was only one thing wrong with the story. It was a lie. Nayirah was in fact a member of the Kuwaiti Royal family. Her father who was seated in the hearing room was the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S. There were no babies removed from incubators and even if there had been Nayirah wouldn't have seen them because she had been in Washington at the time of the invasion.

Nayirah had been coached in her testimony by Lauri Fitz-Pegado, a vice-president at Hill and Knowlton, a prominent D.C. public relations firm that the Kuwaitis had hired to turn American public opinion toward fighting a war to liberate a country with a dismal human rights record that most had never heard of and where the Emir had multiple wives and gold bathroom fixtures. H&K had experience sprucing up unattractive regimes in the eyes of the U.S. They had previously done the same for brutal governments in Turkey and Indonesia.

H&K produced dozens of Video News Releases (VNR) that were sent to U.S. TV stations that aired them while rarely if ever identifying them as having come from a Kuwait's PR firm. These were basically propaganda pieces masquerading as journalism. A quickie book entitled the Rape of Kuwait was produced and distributed to media outlets. The campaign to improve the Kuwaiti image stretched to the Ambassador himself. H&K consultants adjusted Nayirahs fathers clothing and hairstyle to make him more appealing to U.S. audiences.

Craig Fuller, a close Bush insider, who was the elder Bushs chief of staff during his Vice-President years, was heading H&Ks D.C. office at the time. Not surprisingly, then, the Bush administration made frequent use of H&Ks work. Bush the elder actually repeated Nayirahs fraudulent story about the incubators, railed about "naked aggression" and then when polls still showed little or no support for a war, raised the specter of Saddam Hussein using nuclear weapons against the U.S. since the same polls showed that the possibility of a nuclear Iraq was the only war rationale that edged over 50% approval.

So Bush the elder wanted to fight a war to retrieve the Kuwaiti oil. But with a lack of public support for that kind of war he, along with many of the same people who now run the foreign policy establishment for his son, spent weeks lying to the American people in an attempt to fabricate a reason that they would find acceptable. Bush wasn't laboring under the illusion that the incubator story was really true. He knew it wasn't true. It was a propaganda campaign designed to get just enough public support to start the war because once the war started it would be perceived as "unpatriotic" to oppose it. The plan worked and Bush got his war.

The father of the current President allowed Americans to be killed in a war for oil interests created by a P.R. firm. He presided over an effort that killed 200,000 Iraqis, almost 100,000 of whom were innocent non-combatants. He cynically created the demonized version of Saddam Hussein and then left him in power once the oil had been secured. The "worse than Hitler" villain turned out to have soldiers that willingly surrendered to some of the journalists covering the war. There was no point in getting thousands of Americans killed marching to Baghdad (a political loser of an idea) to remove Saddam because the war was never about him to begin with.

So now those around Bush the younger conveniently find that an American presumed killed in the Gulf War might still be alive (after all how can anyone prove he's not alive). They've never been able to find a link between Iraq and 9/11 but don't be surprised if Hill & Knowlton isn't finding one right now. And since the Iraqis can't prove that they don't have weapons of mass destruction no matter what kind of inspections they allow we'll just have no choice but to go to war.

Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, said this week that despite all we've heard about weapons development in Iraq their weapons are largely disarmed and that the much-heralded threat is in fact a "framework of lies." But we shouldn't be surprised. The two Bush administrations have had great success in lying about Iraq for over ten years. Why should they change anything now?

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