One year later, the lies that led to the war in Iraq are coming unraveled. Last week, even CIA Director George Tenet admitted that he had privately disputed public statements made by top government officials who had twisted intelligence reports.
It's about time. One year ago, I watched as our nation's highest officials exploited the catastrophe of Sept. 11, 2001, by manipulating fears of terrorism and exaggerating the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, declared that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger -- a bogus story that was discredited in the foreign press. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in his address to the U.N. Security Council, cited "solid" British evidence of Iraq's WMDs that was immediately exposed as 10-year-old data posted on the Internet by a graduate student.
By the time the war began, the government's Big Lie had turned into conventional wisdom. Much of the American media, according to a study by the Center for International Security Studies at Maryland, amplified administration assertions and failed to critically analyze how officials "framed the events, issues, threats and policy options."
As a result, more than half of the American people believed that Iraqis had been among the Sept. 11 terrorists and that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda had forged an alliance to destroy the United States.
Yet none of this was true.
One year later, more than 500 Americans soldiers have died in Iraq and thousands more have returned home with missing limbs and scarred souls. Countless Iraqi civilians have been killed, injured and humiliated by the American occupation.
One year later, our world is far more dangerous. Many of our allies are alienated by Bush's arrogant, unilateral deployment of military power. Hatred of our country has grown in much of the Islamic world.
Fortunately, lies have a way of unraveling because people with integrity step forward to speak the truth.