Last week, President Bush said, "The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East." Pressed by a reporter on what 9/11 had to do with Iraq, Bush testily responded: "Nothing. Nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack."
Really? Here at Mother Jones, we've just posted a massive interactive timeline that, among hundreds of other entries, contains this Bush quote, dating back to Sept. 25, 2002: "You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein when you talk about the war on terror." Three days later, Donald Rumsfeld said that the link between Saddam and Al Qaeda was "accurate and not debatable." And on and on.
In some ways, the story of this timeline began when MoJo staffers ducked out for the 2003 State of the Union speech, which included the infamous "16 words" about Saddam Hussein seeking to procure uranium from Niger. This claim had already been reported to be demonstrably false, yet such objections went unheeded in the climate of fear that still gripped the country 16 months after 9/11. Almost two years later, we resolved to reconstruct the truth, combining our files, obsessions, and enormous amounts of information gleaned from the work of some of the nation's finest reporters to produce this timeline.
When did Dick Cheney say, "The question in my mind is: How many additional casualties is Saddam worth? The answer is: Not very damn many." Who was the convicted sex offender and "known fabricator" behind much of Bush's WMD intelligence? Which terror alerts were timed for political convenience? Who said, "We will be greeted as liberators"? The timeline is a tool in tracking down the answers to questions like these--and to begin challenging those who, as the president would have it, "like to rewrite history."
We trust that the project will grow in ways we can't even anticipate, as it is circulated and commented on by users everywhere. To quote Bush (or rather, one of his White House briefers) once more, "The President of the United States is not a fact-checker." But you can be.