- In five weeks it is likely that United States soldiers
will be fighting and dying in Iraq. While there is no doubt that we can
defeat Sadam Hussein there is much debate on whether we should go to war
and what will be the ultimate costs to Iraq and the United States.
- Americans want to believe that our government officials
tell the truth and don't intentionally mislead us. Other governments manipulate
the truth not ours.
- It is hard for Americans to accept that at times we are
lied to or intentionally misled in order to build support for a foreign
policy decision. While this may be disturbing it is our duty as citizens
in a democracy to be open to this reality. We are the strongest military
in the world and ultimately decide which governments will fall or stand.
- Gulf War I
- If you followed the first Gulf War you remember the infamous
story of how Iraqi soldiers removed babies from incubators in Kuwait city;
left them to die and shipped the incubators back to Iraq. This was front
page news in every newspaper in the U.S. and the lead story on every major
news station as the public was deciding whether to support going to war.
- This story was repeated by President Bush senior in a
number of speeches saying that such "ghastly atrocities," were
like "Hitler revisited."
- There is only one problem with this story. It never happened!
It was a complete fabrication!
- Months after the war ended TV Guide reported in Feb.,
1992 that both 20/20 and Sixty Minutes interviewed doctors in Kuwait and
determined no such incident ever happened.
- Another example from the first Gulf war, according to
an article in the Christian Science Monitor was a report by Pentagon officials,
citing top-secret satellite images. Pentagon officials estimated that up
to 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks stood on the border of Saudi Arabia,
threatening the major supplier of oil for the US.
- The St. Petersburg Times in Florida acquired two commercial
Soviet satellite images of the same area, taken at the same time which
showed no Iraqi troops visible near the Saudi border - just empty desert.
- Jean Heller, the Times Journalist who broke the story
asked Secretary of Defense Cheney (now Vice President) for evidence refuting
the Times photos, offering to hold the story if proven wrong. The official
response: "Trust Us." To this day the photos cited by Pentagon
officials remain classified.
- Hill & Knowlton
- When the invasion of Kuwait took place in August, 1990
US public opinion was not predisposed to the government of Kuwait. Only
a few weeks before Amnesty International accused the government of Kuwait
of jailing dozens of dissidents and torturing them without trial.
- To help build support for the war "Citizens for
a Free Kuwait," which was the Kuwait government in exile, hired the
Washington based public relations of Hill and Knowlton for $10.7 million
to devise a campaign to win support for the war. The CEO of H & K at
the time, Craig Fuller, had access to the power elite in Washington, as
he had served as the President's chief of staff when Bush was Vice President
under President Reagan.
- One aspect of their campaign was to coach a young woman
Nayirah, who appeared Oct. 10, 1990 in front of a Congressional committee.
She testified to the committee that she saw Iraqi soldiers come into a
hospital, remove babies from incubators and leave them "on the cold
floor to die."
- It later came out long after the war was over that she
was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States and hadn't
actually seen the incident she described taking place - an incident which
was later proven to be a fabrication. Hill & Knowlton also coached
a team of witnesses who appeared a few weeks later at the United Nations
about atrocities in Iraq.
- Gulf War II
- In a September 7, 2002 news conference President Bush
said that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing
a nuclear weapon citing a report from The International Atomic Energy Agency.
- On Friday, Sept. 27, in a news interview Mark Gwozdecky,
the IAEA's chief spokesman said, "There's never been a report like
that issued from this agency."
- When questioned, the White House said the President was
referring to a 1991 IAEA report.
- Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by
IAEA in 1991. "I don't know where they have determined that Iraq has
retained this much weaponization capability because when we left in December
1998 we had concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program.
We had confiscated their fissile material. We had destroyed all their key
buildings and equipment," he said.
- Civic Responsibility
- It would be cynical to believe that every statement by
our government leaders is a lie or distortion. It would be just as foolish
however, to blindly accept every statement our government leaders make.
- As citizens of the world's most powerful country we have
an obligation to critically examine
- the position of our government regarding the merits of
going to war and each come to our own conclusion.
- If we are to be true to those who die defending our freedom
this is our patriotic responsibility.
- Peter Wirth
- CEO of GW Associates, a Syracuse public relations firm