Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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It appears our government lied about Iraqi WMDs
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   06/06/2003)

They were shocked!

Shocked they had me to know way back in February when I wrote the obvious--that governments lie in order to rally people to war--and so we shouldn't be duped by all the noise coming out of Washington. Some readers let me know how unpatriotic I was to suggest such a thing. Others saw it my way.

Whatever you think about our unfinished business in Iraq, it's pretty clear our leaders lied by trumpeting faulty or fabricated intelligence to convince the world Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was marching lockstep with al-Qaida.

I don't know why expressing my doubts should have been so disturbing. Governments lie all the time. President Clinton lied about Monica. Bush the Elder lied about "No New Taxes." The Reagan/Bush administrations lied about Iran-Contra. Nixon lied about Watergate and, earlier, his "secret plan" for peace in Vietnam. Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin, which hastened our tragic foray into Southeast Asia. Kennedy and Eisenhower both lied about the Bay of Pigs.

Don't be naïve, don't be cynical, but do maintain a healthy skepticism. We're a great country, but that doesn't mean our leaders won't lie to us. They're in a tough game and they want to be top dog, so they tell lies to get what they want. But telling lies to start wars is heinous and it's up to us in the media, the pulpits, living rooms and chat rooms to point that out.

We supposedly live in an enlightened age. We have the Internet. We can look at tapes for goodness sakes that show presidents and kings and dictators telling bald-faced lies to rally people to war in previous generations. We know or should know that history is a sad chronicle of governments sending young people far away to kill or be killed by poor, duped children of other countries. When the media parrots such lies instead of challenging them, it makes the business of war easy, even profitable for some.

As I wrote in February, big fat lies about who sunk the Maine plunged America into the Spanish-American War. Outrageous propaganda about the habits of Germans helped launch us into WWI, basically a family feud that got out of hand among the royalty of Europe. Somehow that handful of monarchs and other leaders convinced hundreds of millions of people that other countries were so evil and devilish that war was the only rational recourse. Every leader in that war told their people the big fat lie that God was on their side and would see to a swift, sure victory. Woodrow Wilson, whose intentions were good, dubbed WWI "the war to end all wars."

It was just the opposite really. Not only did millions die, but WWI, with its faulty concluding peace, laid the groundwork not only for WWII, which killed many tens of millions around the globe, but gave rise to communism, the Cold War and the nuclear era that threatens to annihilate civilization. I wonder what the outcome might have been had more newspapers dared suggest we keep out of WWI. Not that our intentions weren't good, but there's a flip side to good intentions. To alter an old saying, the road to hell is paved with the unintended consequences of well-intended lies.

The most recent crop of government lies are grounded in the high-minded notion that America is so good and so righteous and so mighty that we have an obligation to rule the world and make it a better place. Read up on the Project for a New American Century. That's the roadmap to the future, as some in the president's inner circle see it, and--as recent documents and speeches make clear--our leaders settled on Iraq as the logical starting place, and on WMDs as the logical pretext. In a way, invading Iraq was missionary work. Saddam was so evil, his location so strategic, we needed to remove him and occupy his country. Maybe this war will turn out to be good for the world, maybe it won't. I have my doubts. But to realize their good intentions, our leaders had to convince a credible portion of America and the world that we should bomb, invade and occupy Iraq. Their main justification for making George W. Bush the latest in a long, sad list of Iraqi rulers was that Saddam had tons of chemical weapons. He was on the verge of building nuclear bombs. He had strong ties to al-Qaida and our leaders could prove it. But the proof was never there, and that's what they lied about. After interviewing thousands of enemy scientists, soldiers, diplomats and bureaucrats, our side has produced no credible evidence that Iraq was anywhere close to obtaining nuclear weapons or that they still possessed the chemical and biological weapons we helped them get in the first place or that al-Qaida was anything more than a sometime enemy of Saddam. Honest mistake, right? Wrong. Read Paul Wolfowitz's comments, lectures and opinions in any number of conferences or publications over the past 15 years, not just those contested by him in the current issue of Vanity Fair or at a recent meeting in Singapore on the role of oil in our decision to invade. If you have to ask, "Who's Paul Wolfowitz?" it's just one more indication you've been duped.