Four months after announcing troop reductions in Iraq, President Bush is now sending signals that the cuts may not continue past this summer, a development likely to infuriate Democrats and renew concerns among military planners about strains on the force. Mr. Bush has made no decisions on troop reductions to follow those he announced last September. But White House officials said Mr. Bush had been taking the opportunity, as he did in Monday’s State of the Union address, to prepare Americans for the possibility that, when he leaves office a year from now, the military presence in Iraq will be just as large as it was a year ago, or even slightly larger.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Bush wanted to tamp down criticism that a large, sustained presence in Iraq would harm the overall health of the military — a view held not only by Democrats, but by some members of his own Joint Chiefs of Staff. Within the Pentagon, senior officers have struggled to balance the demands of the Iraq war against the competing demands to recruit, train and retain a robust and growing ground force. That institutional tension is personified by two of Mr. Bush’s top generals, David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff. General Petraeus’s mission is to win the war; General Casey must also worry about the health of the whole Army.“We’re concerned about the health of the force as well, but the most important thing is that they succeed in Iraq,” said one senior White House official, adding, “If the commanders on the ground believe we need to maintain the troop numbers at the current level to maintain security for a little while longer, then that’s what the president will do.”
Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
President George W. Bush and seven of his administration’s top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.
On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration’s case for war.
It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. This was the conclusion of numerous bipartisan government investigations, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (2004 and 2006), the 9/11 Commission, and the multinational Iraq Survey Group, whose "Duelfer Report" established that Saddam Hussein had terminated Iraq’s nuclear program in 1991 and made little effort to restart it.In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric…