A confederacy of conspiracists
It would be frightening if there are as many hard-core conspiracy theorists as the number of believers in 'Bush lied!' suggests.
One of the most widely held conspiracy theories in the history of the United States is the assertion that President Bush lied in order to launch the Iraq war.Skip to next paragraph
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The theory alleges that high-level Bush administration officials privately knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but publicly maintained there were WMD in order to build support for invading that country. WMD, according to this view, was only a pretext for what most proponents of the "Bush lied!" school of thought believe was the real reason for going into Iraq: oil.
By definition, "Bush lied!" means there was a multifaceted conspiracy that included not only as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condoleezza Rice, but also Colin Powell, then serving as secretary of State; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; the CIA; British intelligence; and even the Clinton administration, all of whom maintained that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD.
But sensational conspiracy theories - the kind that contradict the evidence - rarely turn out to be true.
The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, the Robb-Silberman Commission report, and Britain's Butler report found that the Bush administration did not lie, distort, or prod intelligence agencies to alter their findings on WMD. Robb-Silberman concluded that it was "the paucity of intelligence and poor analytical tradecraft, rather than political pressure, that produced the inaccurate pre-war intelligence assessments."
No longer promoted by small groups of people on the left fringe, believers in the "Bush lied!" conspiracy have grown to encompass a large segment of the population. More than half of respondents to a Washington Post/ABC poll believed that the Bush administration deliberately misled the public before the war. It even includes the Democratic leadership in Congress; Senate minority leader Harry Reid claimed "This administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq."
At a protest rally in Washington last year, "Bush lied!" signs were everywhere. The Washington Post ran a story that no doubt typified the conspiracy-minded mentality of many of the attendees of that rally. After train delays in New York resulted in some attendees arriving late, they blamed the delays on a Karl Rove conspiracy. "This has Rove's fingerprints all over it," a passenger told the Post. And it does not appear she was joking.
Conspiracy theorists tend to ascribe the worst of motives to their political opponents. Big political events, particularly those with controversial or undesirable outcomes, from the conspiracist's viewpoint, do not happen against a backdrop of policymakers faced with difficult options in a world full of uncertainty; they happen deliberately out of sinister, self-serving motives.