Now that we all know there were never, and never will be, weapons of mass destruction unearthed in Iraq, the White House is retreating on its prewar language about what kind of a threat Saddam Hussein posed. Bush press secretary Scott McClellan insisted this week that it was the media, not the administration that characterized Saddam's threat as "imminent." The new White House line is that Saddam was merely a "growing" threat. But in the age of Google and Lexis-Nexis, one should really be more careful.
The Center for American Progress has compiled a list of the many times Bush or his emissaries used the word "imminent" or a synonym thereof to describe Saddam's potential to harm the United States. "A closer look at the record shows that McClellan himself and others did use the phrase 'imminent threat' while also using the synonymous phrases 'mortal threat,' 'urgent threat,' 'immediate threat,' 'serious and mounting threat,' 'unique threat,' and claiming that Iraq was actively seeking to 'strike the United States with weapons of mass destruction' - all just months after Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that Iraq was 'contained' and 'threatens not the United States.' While Iraq was certainly a dangerous country, the Administration's efforts to claim it never hyped the threat in the lead-up to war is belied by its statements."