By MARC MCDONALD
As he continued to accuse war critics of "revisionism," Dick Cheney insisted that the "burden of proof" was on Saddam Hussein to show that Iraq had no WMDs.
Actually, it is Cheney who is engaging in revisionism. The fact is, Iraq went to great pains in 2002 to document that it had no WMDs.
For example, on Dec. 7, 2002, Iraqi officials presented the U.N. with a 12,000-page dossier disclosing Iraq's programs for weapons of mass destruction (as demanded by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441). Also, on that day, Iraqi officials agreed to open the country to another round of U.N. weapons inspections.
No one could accuse Iraq of skimping on details in the dossier. The declaration included 11,807 pages of information, with 1,334 pages devoted to biological weapons and 1,823 pages devoted to chemical weapons and 12 CD-ROMs containing 529 megabytes of information, according to a CNN report.
At the time, Iraqi General Hasam Amin said the dossier shows "that Iraq is empty of weapons of mass destruction. I reiterate Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction."
Of course, the Bush White House denounced the dossier--but offered no evidence to show that the document was in any way inaccurate.
On Dec. 5, 2002, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer ridiculed the idea that Iraq might not have WMDs after all:
"President Bush has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction ... Iraq says they don't. You can choose who you want to believe."
In hindsight, I suppose it's quite predictable that the Bush White House would casually dismiss Iraq's accounting of its WMDs in its reckless rush to war.
But one point that has been overlooked in this whole episode is that when Iraq presented its dossier to the U.N. in December 2002, its information was actually not much different than that which had been presented by the Bush White House the previous year.
Colin Powell made this clear when he praised the U.N. sanctions as effective during a Feb. 24, 2001 press conference.
"(Saddam) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
As it turns out, Iraq was telling the truth after all in 2002 when it declared that it had no WMDs. It was the Bush White House that was lying to the American people and the world.