Jeremy Scahill talks to MSNBC's Martin Bashir about the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and who should be held responsible on this ten-year anniversary of the Iraq war.
March 19, 2013

On the ten year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, there has been an awful lot of naval gazing by our media, sadly with most of it being revisionist history on what happened during the run up to that invasion and occupation, with a lot of glossing over just how complicit the media was in helping the neocons beat the war drums. And as Jeremy Scahill noted during this interview on Martin Bashir's show, there's still a lot to answer for by our politicians on both sides of the aisles -- but in particular, the neocons and Bush administration.

It's too bad there wasn't any accountability for his fellow guest on the program, Michael O'Hanlon, who supported the invasion and who was as guilty as the rest of them with enabling the neocons. Scahill sadly didn't go after O'Hanlon, but I appreciate what he was given a chance to say during the segment.

SCAHILL: People like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith should not be able to show their faces in public in this country without being confronted with what they did to Iraq. I mean, the reality is... having spent time in Iraq throughout the '90's... many of the Iraqis I knew are dead. Many of the Iraqis that survived the war are displaced and with the millions of others that have been displaced.

But I think it's important, you know we as Americans don't often study history as much as we should to remember that, I don't see this as the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war. This is a war that started in 1991 and was waged consistently by the United States and it was a bipartisan war. Bill Clinton presided over the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam, bombing Iraq once every three days under the guise of these so-called no-fly zones. He's imposed the most brutal regime of economic sanctions in history on the Iraqi people and it was disproportionately aimed at the people, not the regime. I mean, Martin, if you went into hospitals in Iraq in the '90's, they were like death rows for innocents. And that was a Democratic administration.

Then we had the non-debate in the lead up to the war, where the current Vice President Joe Biden was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We were begging him. I was with one of the former U.N. heads in Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, begging Joe Biden to call him as a witness to talk about the lack of WMD's in Iraq. They refused. So there are key members of this administration, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, the Vice President, Joe Biden who also has to answer for their role in this, but people like Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, should not be given any kind of honor in this society. They should be held accountable for the U.S. soldiers that were killed and also, I think it's many more than 100,000 Iraqis that were killed.

After O'Hanlon did a bit of whitewashing of Cheney's motives and culpability in pushing for the invasion, Scahill did a nice job pushing back here.

SCAHILL: Look, at Saddam's most brutal, he was considered an ally of the United States. Reagan's administration lifted him from the list of state sponsors of terror, then sold him weapons that he in turn then used on Iraqi Kurds. Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam Hussein and gave him a pair of cowboy spurs as a gift from Ronald Reagan.

I saw them when I went to the Saddam museum in Baghdad a few months before the war started. I mean, these guys came to power, the neocons came to power with an agenda for regime change in Iraq and on 9-11 they were salivating. Gen. Hugh Shelton, who was Chair of the Joint Chiefs at the time, told me that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, all of these guys just started, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq, immediately at the first meeting after 9-11. And you know, the fact is that these guys had a mission to try to redraw the map in the Middle East. That's a fact and Dick Cheney did not invent the idea of the executive branch being a dictatorship when it comes to foreign policy in America.

Unfortunately President Obama has continued some of the things that Cheney and Rumsfeld and these guys laid the groundwork for earlier, but my God, when Cheney headed up Haliburton for the 1990's, he had oil on the mind all the time. And the irony is, the U.S. isn't winning the oil in Iraq. Those guys failed at their own game, the neocons.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.