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A documentary, “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” aired on MSNBC to mark the tenth-anniversary of the selling of the Iraq War by President George W. Bush’s administration. For someone unaware of the extent to which President Bush and neoconservatives in his administration went to manufacture the case for going to war in Iraq, the documentary is a fairly good presentation of much of the deception and manipulation that occurred.

Narrated by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, the documentary, based off reporting by NBC correspondent Michael Isikoff and MSNBC contributor David Corn, highlights how Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State, pushed a “top aide” to find information linking Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden. Dick Cheney went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and cited a false report of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta meeting an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague. The CIA had Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi rendered to Egypt, where he was tortured, and coughed up a story about Hussein developing chemical and biological weapons, which Condoleezza Rice went on PBS’s “Newshour with Jim Lehrer” to share with the American people. They cited evidence that Iraq built “a mobile biological weapons capability to avoid detection by the US and its allies,” which came from a sole source, Curveball, who was lying and known within the CIA to be a fabricator.

The “new revelations” it contains come from “newly declassified talking points and handwritten notes from November 2001.” They show then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s team tried to find the most compelling reason to justify war.

By late November, Rumsfeld was meeting with Gen. Tommy Franks, Centcom commander, to plot the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government, according to the now declassified talking points agenda from the sessions (shown on television for the first time in the documentary). The talking points suggest that Rumsfeld and his team were grappling with a tricky issue: “How [to] start?” the war. In other words, what would the pretext be? Various scenarios were outlined: “US discovers Saddam connection to Sept. 11 attack or to anthrax attacks?” reads one of them. “Dispute over WMD inspections?” reads another. “Start now thinking about inspection demands.”

Neoconservatives, like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby and Richard Perle, are known to have signed on to a Project for the New American Century (PNAC) charter and aligned themselves to promote a war in Iraq, along with a global war on terrorism. This neoconservative think tank was the first in 1998 to call for Washington to pursue “regime change” in Iraq “in conjunction with the Iraqi National Congress of Ahmad Chalabi, who would later play a key role in the propaganda campaign against Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.” PNAC is not mentioned in the documentary (though a letter the group sent to President Clinton calling for “regime change” is mentioned).

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."