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The Iraq War 10 Years On: The Intelligence, The Stories, The Legacy
March 18, 2013
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This week marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq.

On March 20, 2003 a coalition force led by the United States launched a surprise invasion without officially declaring war.

The invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein was based on intelligence that he had weapons of mass destruction, but nothing was ever found.

Some U.S. officials accused Saddam of supporting al-Qaida in carrying out the 9-11 attacks. But again, no meaningful connection was ever found.

The war lasted far longer than the U.S. government said it would: the last American troops left Iraq more than 8 years later.

Here's a collection of some of the best pieces we've found, as people reflect on the war, the lead-up and the legacy.

THE BBC - Iraq: The Spies Who Fooled The World

The BBC program Panorama has a new documentary saying that key intelligence used to justify the war was based on a "fabrication" and "wishful thinking".

Panorama spoke to one Iraqi spy - codenamed 'Curveball' - who said the invasion had been based on his "lie".

Peter Taylor, a Panorama reporter, asked 'Curveball': "The fact is we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie." "Yes," he replied, smiling.

You can listen to an interview with Taylor and read more here.

WIRED - I Tried To Make The Intelligence Behind The Iraq War Less Bogus

In this piece, former CIA analyst Nada Bakos describes working on some of the intelligence related to Iraq.

Bados writes, "On Sunday, March 16, 2003, I watched (former Vice-President) Cheney on "Meet The Press" contradict our assessment publicly. 'We know that he [Saddam] has a long-standing relationship with various terrorist groups,' Cheney said, 'including the al-Qaeda organization.'

"I was basically watching Cheney field-test arguments that we would have to anticipate - and rebut - at CIA. Except instead of asking us questions behind closed doors, Cheney was asserting to the public as fact something that we found to be anything but. I found myself yelling at the TV like I was contesting a ref's blown call in a football game."

You can read the full piece here.

The Guardian - Iraq 10 Years On: A Photographer's Story

Award Winning Photographer Sean Smith has documented events in Iraq for The Guardian newspaper since 2003.

Some of his most powerful images are in a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum North in Trafford, Greater Manchester in England.

In this video, he explains the stories behind the photos.

The Sunday Times - 10 Years On, Paul Wolfowitz Admits U.S. Bungled in Iraq

After the 9/11 attacks, Paul Wolfowitz was the first senior official to advise President George W. Bush to seek regime change in Iraq. But he denies being the "architect" of the war.

In this interview, he admits a series of blunders by the Bush administration created a cycle of violence in Iraq that "spiralled out of control".

He also said the "biggest hole" in the battle plan was not anticipating the possibility of an insurgency.

Wolfowitz also criticized those who accuse Bush of lying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

That was "the consensus judgment of the intelligence community" and of most Democratic senators - "Hillary Clinton certainly was one of them", he said.

Read the full story right here.

Newsweek - The Speechwriter: David Frum On The Rhetoric Of Iraq

Frum was a speechwriter for President Bush and wrote what has become known as the "axis of evil" speech.

He writes "The U.S.-led war unleashed a horrible civil war inside Iraq. But as the example of Syria shows, it's just wrong to assume that Iraq would have been spared a civil war if Saddam had been left in place."

"The deluge was coming in Iraq, whatever outside powers did. And while the war planners deserve blame for the failure to keep order, the vast majority of the post-2003 casualties inside Iraq were inflicted by other Iraqis, not the coalition forces."

He goes on to say, "Over the past 10 years, there have been few days when the war in Iraq was absent from my thoughts."

"If we'd found the WMD, it would have been different. If we'd kept better order in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam, it would have been different... But it wasn't different. Those of us who were involved - in whatever way - bear the responsibility."

You can read Frum's entire piece here.

Radio Free Europe - Icons Of The Iraq War: Ali Ismail Abbas And The Civilian Toll

During the U.S. led invasion, a 12-year-old boy named Ali Ismail Abbas lost both of his arms and suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body.

Doctors didn't think he'd live to see his 13th birthday, but he did and he's now 22, married and living in London.

You can read about his recovery right here.

The Economist - The Iraq War: Anniversary Of A Mass Delusion

In this blog, the author known only as M.S., writes, "In the name of pre-empting a non-existent threat, America killed tens of thousands of people and turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorism. And we spent a trillion dollars to do it."

The pieces goes on to say, "What I took away from it all was the depressing conviction that all of us, including those of us considered the most responsible, well-trained and serious, are entirely capable of talking ourselves into lurid fantasies".

The full article is right here.

The Guardian - Faces Of War: Hear The Stories Behind Iconic Images Of Iraq Conflict

This series includes photos from coaltion soldiers and Iraqi people, who lived through the war. Here's a couple.

Kadhom Al-Jubouri - "I thought we got rid of the tyrant but it turned out the contrary. Honestly I regret it."

Daniel Sims - "Everyone was a little highly strung - it gets to you after a while."

On The Guardian's page, you can click play at the bottom of each image to hear the story behind the photo. Check out the full series here.

The Nation - Tenth Anniversary Of The Start Of Iraq War: Sixteen Media Outrages That Followed

Writer Greg Mitchell runs down "the good, the bad and the ugly in war coverage from this date in 2003 to the invasion through the five years of controversy that followed."

We like Mitchell's choice at #10 - Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April 2006. Colbert said...

"Let's review the rules. The president makes decisions; he's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell-check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction."

Read the full list right here.

You might also want to check out these posts.

BBC - Marwa's Story: 10 Years Since The Bomb Fell

Here's a synopsis: "As the US military fought their way into Baghdad 10 years ago, the life of one Iraqi girl was changed forever when she was gravely injured in an air raid.

Marwa's story, and charitable efforts by outsiders to rebuild her life, reflect the wider struggle of millions of Iraqis over the past decade."

The Guardian - Baghdad, Iraq: 10 Years After Saddam

The Christian Science Monitor - Iraq War 10 Years Later: Was It Worth It?

The Guardian - Iraq 10 years on: The Key Bloggers Look Back On The War

Related stories

The Author Of 'War Horse' Michael Morpurgo On The Futility Of War

Former Monty Phyton Member Turned Historian Terry Jones On The Need To Respond To War

Songwriting For Soldiers: Using Music As Therapy To Help With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


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