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Bush's facts about Iraq

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LEAD-IN BY HOST: Bush continues to address the nation in an effort to gain support for taking action against Iraq. Analysts suggest his speeches need some fact checking. With more here's Craig Byrnes.

STORY: In just under a month's worth of speeches, George Bush continues to outline his reasoning for any action against Saddam Hussein's regime.

Although he says no pre-emptive action will take place unless Hussein refuses to comply with a United Nations resolution, critics say Bush may not be exercising enough of a diplomatic effort. In a mid-September speech, given in Houston, Bush questioned the United Nations.

"The United Nations in the face of Saddam Hussein has not been effective. For 11 long years he's defied them. He's wheedled out of agreement. He's deceived and he's lied. The question before the United Nations; is will you be the League of Nations or will you be an effective body to keep the peace? That's my question to them."

In his speech to the nation on Monday night, Bush said he hopes no military action against Iraq will be required - as a war against Hussein's regime facing its own downfall would be a dangerous feat. But, if necessary, Bush says the U.S. will step up to the occasion.

"If the United Nations won't act, if he doesn't disarm, the United States will lead a coalition to make sure he does."

Associate professor of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, Robert Jensen, disagrees that the Bush administration sincerely wishes to gain U.N approval for a US action against Iraq.

"President Bush is pretending to engage the United Nations in what he's calling diplomacy and a multilateral effort on Iraq, but in fact, what he's doing is giving the United Nations an either/or choice: Either you agree to the U.S. plan to go to war, or we ignore you. That's not diplomacy. That's not evoking multilateralism. That's a simple, imperial move to say: We have the power to do this and we will do it. You can agree or not, but it's irrelevant. From the time he spoke to the U.N. on Sept. 12, to his speech Monday night, the message remains the same. It is a direct insult and denial of the power of the United Nations, not an evoking of the United Nations."

In his recent speeches, Bush also described many instances where U.S. intelligence proves Saddam Hussein is building up his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons. But, Green Party Texas gubernatorial candidate, Rahul Mahajan, claims Bush uses mostly rhetoric and less accurate information when citing these examples:

"Anything we heard new in his speech, was blatantly false. In fact, many of the claims he has made have been rebutted by U.S. intelligence sources and by CIA and ex-CIA personnel. So, for example, he said Iraq is building un-manned, aerial vehicles with the view to targeting the United States. Intelligence personnel has said very clearly, there is no way those vehicles have anything like that kind of range. Vincent Conistraro, the ex-CIA head of counter-intelligence operations, said explicitly, that there is a lot of cooked data being put out into public channels and that a lot of people in the intelligence community themselves, are very annoyed at the way that is being misused."

Combined with classic propaganda techniques, can Bush's truth stretching convince this country to go to war? Director of the School of Communication at the University of Houston, and propaganda specialist, Dr. Garth Jowett gives his impression:

"As a student of propaganda, I become concerned when he starts using quotes that pertain to the Cuban missile crisis or when they start using atrocity propaganda; images of all the nasty things Saddam Hussein has done to his own people . . . They do tend to scare people and sometimes they work. I guess we'll have to wait and see whether it's worked in this case."

This week the U.S. House of Representatives began debating about approval of a resolution giving Bush the option to take action against Iraq with or without a U.N. resolution. A vote is expected before the November elections.

Craig Byrnes, KPFT News, Houston.

E-mail Craig Byrnes at craig_uh@yahoo.com .