One of the oldest tricks in the run-up to a war is to spread terrifying stories of things that the enemy may be about to do. Government officials plant these tales, journalists water them and the public, for the most part, swallow them.
On November 12, the New York Times reported that Iraq had ordered a million doses of a well known antidote to nerve gas. This information came from "senior Bush administration officials" whom the paper did not name, and was soon regurgitated by other news media across the US and beyond.
Although the New York Times made clear that the drug concerned, atropine, has some perfectly normal medical uses, the story pointed - as the officials who leaked it undoubtedly intended - to a far more sinister conclusion. It implied that Iraq not only possesses nerve gas but intends to use it in a conflict with the US - hence the need to protect its own forces from accidental injury.