Outrageous: Helen Thomas Finally Gets to Ask Bush Why He Went into Iraq — He Answers ‘9/11’

At his news conference today, President Bush took a question from Helen Thomas for the first time in four years. Helen, who is in her 80s, has been a critic of President Bush, so naturally he is terrified of her.

According to BuzzFlash, mirroring is a way of obliquely phrasing an untrue statement so that a) listeners draw the intended false conclusion and b) the phrasing cannot be deconstructed to show that the statement was untrue.

Helen has made it well-known what question she intended to ask Mr. Bush: Why did we go to war in Iraq?

His answer: You wanna know about Iraq? Let me tell you about Afghanistan. The president launched into the reasons we went to war against the Taliban, which gave him an excuse to connect the dots to Al Qaeda, and September 11 — and then he went a dot too far and connected September 11 to Saddam.

There you have it: We went into Iraq because of 9/11. The remedy for 9/11 was to get rid of Saddam. Yesterday, the president said he had always been “very careful never to say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on America.”

When you read the president’s verbatim answer below, you’ll see that his statement makes no sense. This is intentional. It is a prima facie example of “mirroring,” a term I learned today which describes the linguistic hat trick that Mr. Bush and his team use to create their patented brand of truthiness.

According to BuzzFlash, mirroring is a way of obliquely phrasing an untrue statement so that a) listeners draw the intended false conclusion and b) the phrasing cannot be deconstructed to show that the statement was untrue.

Here is the master mirror man at work:

HELEN THOMAS: I’d like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet — your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth — what was your real reason? You have said it wasn’t oil — quest for oil, it hasn’t been Israel, or anything else. What was it?

THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise — in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist — is that — I didn’t want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect —

HELEN THOMAS: Everything —

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.

HELEN THOMAS: — everything I’ve heard —

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We — when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I’m never going to forget it. And I’m never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people.

Part of that meant to make sure that we didn’t allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that’s why I went into Iraq — hold on for a second —

HELEN THOMAS: They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.

THE PRESIDENT: Look — excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where al Qaeda trained —

HELEN THOMAS: I’m talking about Iraq —

THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That’s where — Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That’s where they trained. That’s where they plotted. That’s where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences —

HELEN THOMAS: — go to war —

THE PRESIDENT: — and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

This is a reminder that President Bush is not as dumb as he acts. Incurious, unread and thick-headed, yes — but also a devious liar who is clever enough to fool a lot of the people most the of the time.


  • ravebyron
    March 21, 2006 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Today, Palast’s column reminded us that Operation Iraqi Freedom was originally drawn up as Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.). Who could ask for anything more?!

  • Peggy Szymeczek
    March 21, 2006 - 8:50 pm | Permalink

    You’ve absolutely have to adore Helen Thomas. She keeps on digging for the truth!

  • big dave from queens
    March 21, 2006 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Another problem is that the media can selectively take clips of Bush’s propaganda and package it exactly as Karl Rove wants it. So this “mirroring” and doublespeak works perfectly for the Busheviks because unless you’re watching C-Span or viewing the speech in its entirety at the time it was delivered, or got it via the Internet, all you are getting is spin designed to project Bush exactly as the GOP wants him projected.

  • big dave from queens
    March 21, 2006 - 9:03 pm | Permalink

    So when u read this dialogue in which Helen Thomas nails the Chump, you do NOT get a media pointing out his lies about weapon inspectors or false links to Iraq.

    Instead, the media (NBC, CBS, ABC, fox, cnn) will take a clip or 2 of his response and package it as “Bush vows to continue fighting terrorists” or “9/11 changed Bush” or “Bush speaks about how to keep Americans safe.”
    So Dems need to attack these 5 networks (especiall the 4 non Fox ones) EVERY single time they pull this nonsense.

  • Captain USA
    March 21, 2006 - 9:09 pm | Permalink

    And here we all are… trying to rationalize the irration.

  • March 21, 2006 - 9:22 pm | Permalink

    OK, honorable men and women.

    There’s one thing you have wrong. Helen’s heart may be in the right place, but until she asks stident questions about 9/11, she’s worthless.

    She shoul ask if Bush is curious about what happend to wtc7, since neither the FEMA, 9/11 Commission, nor the NIST studay, has given the American people the slightest explanation of what happen on 9/11 to WTC7.

  • anonymous
    March 21, 2006 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    A Recent Conversation

    “Why do you hate Bush?”

    “I don’t hate him, I hate what he’s doing to my children and grandchildren”

    “Such as?”

    “This immoral and illegal Iraw war, putting holes in our already leaky health care system and, most ominous of all, ignoring global warming.”

    “What’s that got to do with your children?”

    “Unless our president is impeached, they’re goners and so are your children too.

    “Hiow’s that?”

    “Where they going to live? The Antarctica will be the only habitable place on earth.”

    “Can anything be done to prevent this nightmare from happening?”

    “Impeach our president, that’s what.”

    “That’ll save my children?”

    “It’ll be a start in that direction, unless it’s already too late.”

    “Count me in, then. The president is one thing but my children mean everything to me.”

    “Great, now we have to convince the rest of the thirty percent who, for whatever reason, still support him.”

  • March 21, 2006 - 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Reading these comments leads me to think that Bush’s invasion of Iraq made clear and logical sense to him. On the one hand he satisfies the ambitions of the oil and energy corporations who he sleeps with and he himself is carved from. On the other hand he satiates his Evangelical base and sets into play the scenario that they preach will precede their hearalded “Armageddon”. It was a choice of poisons.

  • sparrow
    March 21, 2006 - 10:17 pm | Permalink

    When all is said and done, I hope the public one day learns the lesson that this is what they get when an incompetent lying maroon gets the Presidency. The real question will then be how long will it be retained in the collective memory. I don’t know if I czn really be too hopeful that the lesson will be retained given the state of the press today. I don”t know how many years Hellen Thomas has left, but while she’s here, she serves as a reminder of what journalists should be. Bless her.

  • NYlib
    March 21, 2006 - 11:16 pm | Permalink

    If Helen asked “Have you ever had sexual relations with Condi Rice?” There would be plenty of follow-ups by other reporters.War is good for ratings, like fire&murder.
    By the way, Ralph Reed was on Scarborough tonight, and his tag was “Presidential Advisor”!! I’m waiting for Ollie North to become NSC advisor and Gordon Liddy to be FBI director.Rush&sons are already Ministers of Propaganda.

  • Nolan Anderson
    March 22, 2006 - 7:26 am | Permalink

    And people keep saying Bush is dumb. He isn’t really dumb – just part of the time. Only when he opens his mouth does the stupidity show through. The only way he appearws reasonably rational is when he is sitting onKarl Rove’s knee and Rove is trying to keep from moving his lips.

  • Vanna LaRoche
    March 22, 2006 - 7:48 am | Permalink

    What really disgusted me was Bob Schieffer of CBS (whom I have despised ever since I heard him joculating about Dan Rather on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” shortly after Schieffer succeeded him–something to the effect of “ol’ Dan really screwed the pooch, didn’t he?”) calling the President “passionate”–as if that were the best characteristic a President could have.

    Yeah. Chavez is passionate. Ahmadinejad is passionate. Mussolini was passionate, too. Likewise Hitler. Can’t disagree with you there, Boob.

  • Chris Anderson
    March 22, 2006 - 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thank you Helen Thomas for taking advantage of the one opportunity you had for questioning George. It must be very difficult to sit through this dictator’s announcements without ever being able to question this idiot’s decisions.
    I didn’t see the press conference but I am sure Helen had a dozen or so follow-up questions but she wasn’t given an opportunity to ask them.
    Doesn’t a reporter that asks the tough questions gain some form of respect from his peers or employers? Why is no one else in the White House press pushing GW on any of the hot button issues? Who is reading or watching their stories – IT IS NOT NEWS to spout the philosophy of the dictator in power.

  • Leef
    March 22, 2006 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Another Pearl Harbor was just what Bush needed. PNAC called for it.

    WT7 wasn’t hit by a plane. No fire before 9/11 (or since) has ever caused the very rapid collapse seen with WT7.

    The evil that is named neocon has been infecting our nation for long time. What are we going to do about it? And when?

  • doubtom
    March 22, 2006 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    sparrow is that you?

  • legal
    March 22, 2006 - 1:55 pm | Permalink

    those raising WTC 7 as the elephant in the living room have it absolutely right. until people face that issue and the many which show 9/11 as the colossal hoax perpetrated by this crime gang, it will all just be wheel spinning.

  • March 22, 2006 - 2:16 pm | Permalink

    All of the writers spouting the curiousities regarding WTC7 are correct. 9/11, being the premise of this bad story and how we got here has just been passed over and neglected to real scrutiny and investigation. Most of America doesn’t realize the situation of WTC7 since the main stream media is obviously a puppet of the neocon/corporate conglomertate as well. Start asking questions.

  • March 22, 2006 - 2:37 pm | Permalink

    O.K., I went here and the building collapse certainly looks odd. I remember that day hearing that the ground was so destablized from the main collapses that other buildings were starting to go. So I skimmed over most of the site, and I still don’t get it. What is everyone thinking happened? Somebody just say it…

  • makesenseofit
    March 22, 2006 - 4:42 pm | Permalink

    No George did not want war he wanted Iraq to surrender after the pre emptive ATTACK.
    The Bushevicks had a plan and the plan was worked once Sept 11 was allowed to happen or ignored …

  • PSzymeczek
    March 22, 2006 - 7:58 pm | Permalink

    The argument about WTC7 Also applies to WTC1 and 2 NO steel frame high-rise building has EVER collapsed due to fire. Especially when virtually all of the jet fuel burned in the fireball caused by the initial impact. Not even when the building burned for several days.

  • March 22, 2006 - 9:26 pm | Permalink

    The arguement, proposed by Brigham Young Physics professor, Steve Jones, and theologian, David Ray Griffin, reagarding WTC7 goes evcn further. They profess that the three buildings collapsed in a controlled demolition and they were “pulled” after demolition bombs were beforehand in place for their collapse. There is alot of compelling evidence if you listen to their arguements and keep an open mind. Unfortnuately, the American people, very similar to the outcome of the Kennedy assasination, will probably never know the whole story.

  • fraidknot
    March 23, 2006 - 12:51 am | Permalink

    On the third annaversary of the war I was protesting in Tucson,Arizona a town of aproximately 1,000,000 population.About 350 people showed up to march in the protest,mostly Viet Nam era aged,very few young adults.This would not be the case if we had a draft I assure you.If you weren’t out protesting,my question to you is WHY?If you truly want change better start insisting on paper ballots and support the Progressive Democrats(not to be confused with DNC) with time & money.Their out there and need your support.PEACE-TWO TOUR VIETVET

  • Kate
    March 23, 2006 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Bless you all for speaking the “unspeakable”! I believe that BushCo was absolutely complicit in the events of 9/11 – there are far, FAR too many unanswered questions and inconsistencies – and outright LIES in the approved version of the events.

    It’s time for another tea party! Down with King George!!

  • dr. dave
    March 23, 2006 - 3:33 pm | Permalink

    goodness. you bush haters are myopic.
    radical islam is the common thread throughout the islamic countries in that region.
    9-11 was the loudest alarm clock to ring. the prior 11 attacks against just this counrty were “snooze buttoned” by clinton and most of us.some of us get it now. the radical islamics mean to kill/destroy our civilization. they have been trying for years and will not simply stop because you think they should.
    wars started by fanatics cannot be stopped by saying “no to war. make love, not war”.
    the radical islamics laugh at you whist planning their next depraved attacks.
    so “W” was quite correct is saying 9-11 was the reason. iraq was the next haven for the radical islamics. SH was one. his borders leaked like sieves allowing zarqawi and others in to plan, recruit, foment. don’t think so?? oil-for-money ring a bell??
    left unattended. radical islam will plan, recruit, and strike again.
    war means attacking the enemy. disrupting their people, plans, money and material supplies.
    all you whiners think our unilateral disarming will make the jihadists happy and that they will suddenly stop. hah!!! they are rolling on the ground, laughing at your niavity and then rubbbing their grubby mitts together. they think we are woosies.
    judging from the “hate bush” comments made in reference to Helen Thomas’s niave question, the stinkin’ terroristrs are right.
    you ARE a bunch of woosies willing to trade civilian live for political power &/or money or BOTH.
    wake up!!
    the enemy to hate and fight is NOT bUSH. it is the radical islamic terrorists.
    do you really need another alarm clock to go off??
    myopic, niave, hateful of your own country. self destructive. all apply.
    i could go on but why bother. you have a death wish that the jihadists will be happy to grant.
    since they are not selective, i cannot hope that they get only your type.
    i hope to stop them DEAD in their tracks.

    dr. dave

  • NYlib
    March 23, 2006 - 7:57 pm | Permalink

    My brother witnessed live with his own two eyes the second plane hit the building!
    Now as to the idea that Cheney & others suspected the attack and let it happen I’m with you guys on that .
    I think they let UBL get away at Tora Bora too. Or else the war in Iraq could not have been sold so easy. The War On Terror would have been wrapped up!

  • March 24, 2006 - 2:16 am | Permalink

    Now I can support the tin hat crowd in places like the voting mess, cause the facts make alternatives impossible, and just about any Bush perversion of justice, because his secrecy makes all things possible, but the “explosives in the towers” thing is as likely as Creationist Science and for the same reason.

    Long before the first attack at the towers i knew that such an end was possible. To make a structure that big and not have it fall of its own weight either financially or physically, means you have to skirt as close as possible to having it fall of its own without actually going over that line.

    Cold Steel is very strong, but hot steel, even far below melting is like butter, and as mentioned above, it was already pushed close to its limits on a good day. the major shock of even a single floor hitting the one below was well over those limits.

    When the first bomb went off it was amazing it did not fall then, and I understand it almost did. But any honest Architect/engineer would have been aware of their special vulnerability.

    Now the kicking sand in Muslim faces, even to being aware of their plaotting but ignoring it, are easily believable, some october suprise type preplanning is less so.

    But saying that they were actually faking the damage caused by the planes, discredits many more plauseable realities.

    Real facts are a “target rich enviornment” we don’t need impossible extras.

  • March 24, 2006 - 3:27 am | Permalink

    9-11 was the loudest alarm clock to ring. the prior 11 attacks against just this counrty were “snooze buttoned” by clinton and most of us.some of us get it now. the radical islamics mean to kill/destroy our civilization. they have been trying for years and will not simply stop because you think they should.

    Gee and the OK bombing was about Islamists too, or the anthrax attacks, or the Atlanta bombing.
    To say nothing of the less “sucessful” Charles Ray Polk, “sons of Gustapo”,Willy lampley and crowd, “Commander Pedro” and dozens of Militia groups,aryan nations etc who have plotted or carried out dozens of attacks, many with the potential for much worse damage than 9/11.

    Mr Krar planned and had the capacity to wipe out half of Manhatten, not just a couple buildings, and the FBI blew it, and was actually unraveled by local cops.

    All of these people are Conservatives, none of them Islamists.

    so “W” was quite correct is saying 9-11 was the reason. iraq was the next haven for the radical islamics. SH was one. his borders leaked like sieves allowing zarqawi and others in to plan, recruit, foment. don’t think so?? oil-for-money ring a bell??

    Uhhh I believe that Zarqawi had a Base in KURDISH Iran helping the Kurds to OUST Saddam. Saddam was their avowed ENEMY. We were helping them by keeping a “no Fly zone” over them. They even welcomed us as liberators in the first couple of days of the war, till we abused them as well.

    The Problem isn’t radical Islam, It is Radical CONSERVATIVES of all stripes and religions, who want to go kill everyone that isn’t them.

    Osama wouldn’t even have had a base in Afganistan if Reasgan hadn’t Elbowed aside Liberal Secular elements of the refugees from the Russian invasion, to support the radical Conservatives.

    Now Bush is “raising concerns” because an Afgani might get the death penalty for the “crime” of Apostacy. But Read the Dominionist own words on the web. They want the right to do the SAME thing. Shoot they want the right to kill for “crimes” even the Taliban only beat people for.

    Read My notes to two other links Bush and Osama need each other, you might really want to get him/them, but Bush no more wants to solve the Islamist issue than he wants to solve the Narco problem, or anything else that allow attention to the wholesale theft of all America is about.

  • Madison
    March 24, 2006 - 7:12 am | Permalink

    Welcome, Dr. Dave. It is always interesting when a worshipper from the Cult of George Bush drops by to give us the perspective of the ever-smaller group of Americans who have put their adoration of Dear Leader ahead of everything else, including their love of our country, the security of the world and, of course, common sense.

    You are delusional. Seek help.

    Iraq was not a terrorist threat to the United States until your Dear Leader foolishly took us in there.

    Why did he do it? Answer these three questions honestly (if you can — I know that people under the sway of cults have trouble discerning fiction from reality):

    1. Yes or No: If the number one export of Iraq were olive oil, instead of petroleum oil, would we be there today?

    2. One of the reasons Bush has given us for the occupation of Iraq is that we will create a foothold for democracy among the Arabs. Wouldn’t it have been less costly in blood and treasure simply to convince the Kuwaitis to hold elections? After all, we literally saved their asses from Saddam in 1992. Becoming a beacon for democracy in the Middle East would seem to be the very least they could do in return.

    3. In the run-up to the war, did Bush and his team lie when they said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction?

    No? Well, then the only other option is that they screwed up – and did so, as the vice president might say, big time.

    In fact, this outrageously incompetent miscalculation has led to over 100,000 casualities, including almost 3,000 valiant U.S. service members and the fatalities of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis. It will likely cost us upwards of a trillion dollars – and we’re not even halfway done yet. The Bush misadventure in Iraq will undoubtedly go down as the most monumentally inept war effort ever undertaken. (If they were Democrats the Bush team would be pursued by the media and the GOP for gross and homicidal official negligence.)

    So, which is it, Dr. Dave, did they lie or were they merely criminally incompetent?

    We await your answer.

    (Just kidding! We know that Bush worshippers can’t abide the sunlight of reality, so you’ll change the topic to another pre-packaged screed you heard on the Limbaugh show. We understand that you are intellectually unable to answer these three simple questions. Again — seek help.)

  • June 19, 2006 - 8:45 pm | Permalink

    We don’t have a war in Iraq. We have
    an occupation of Iraq.

    How would we respond if another country occupied the U. S.? Would our attitude change if they called themselves liberators?

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