Ari Fleischer, the prominent Jewish Republican who helped build the case for America’s disastrous invasion of Iraq as President George W. Bush’s press secretary in 2002 and 2003, yesterday tweeted a lengthy defense of the Bush Administration’s conduct in the buildup to the war.
He’s getting flamed in response.
In a long thread, Fleischer, now a communications adviser and a member of the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, argued that the Bush Administration never willfully lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, despite such weapons never being found in Iraq after the U.S. invasion. Instead, he blamed American intelligence agencies.
“The fact is that President Bush (and I as press secretary) faithfully and accurately reported to the public what the intelligence community concluded,” Fleischer wrote. “The CIA, along with the intelligence services of Egypt, France, Israel and others concluded that Saddam had WMD. We all turned out to be wrong. That is very different from lying.”
The Iraq war began sixteen years ago tomorrow. There is a myth about the war that I have been meaning to set straight for years. After no WMDs were found, the left claimed “Bush lied. People died.” This accusation itself is a lie. It’s time to put it to rest.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) March 20, 2019
Nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers died fighting the Iraq war, which began 16 years ago today. More than a quarter million people, including civilians, are estimated to have died in the violence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
“Follow along as Ari Fleischer refuses to lay any blame for the monumental policy blunder of invading Iraq on the GWB WH,” tweeted journalist Eli Clifton in response to Fleischer’s thread. “Failure to hold elites accountable for bad foreign policy mistakes is how we get Forever Wars and how people like Ari Fleischer avoid responsibility.”
“Sixteen years later, the real unnecessary casualties were Ari Fleischer’s and George W. Bush’s reputations for integrity, and it is our moral duty as a society to make sure we never blame the people who started an unnecessary war again,” joked Tom Scocca, editor of Hmmm Daily.
David Corn, a journalist who wrote a book on the Iraq War, responded with a thread of his own.
Damn, Ari. I’ve been through this BS before. Cheney started out your push for war in a major speech claiming Saddam was amassing WMDs to use against the US. There was no intelligence concluding that. It was a lie. https://t.co/SLLsNZqGnY— David Corn (@DavidCornDC) March 20, 2019