A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top Administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and Administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaeda or both. "It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaeda," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "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."
The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews. "The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.