Bill O'Reilly declared, "I can't base my opinion" about the Iraq war "on anything" other than "what my military analysts, people paid by Fox News, say to me." O'Reilly added that he could trust only Fox military analysts because "[t]he newspapers ... all have an agenda" and "only give you a snapshot of the war." However, Fox News' military analysts made numerous wrong predictions and false assertions in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.
During the April 14 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Bill O'Reilly declared: "I can't base my opinion" about the Iraq war "on anything" other than "what my military analysts, people paid by Fox News, say to me." O'Reilly added that he could trust only Fox military analysts because "[t]he newspapers ... all have an agenda" and "only give you a snapshot of the war." Later in the broadcast, O'Reilly reiterated his position, saying, "I have to base my analysis on what our Fox News military analysts, who I think are the best and always been the best, are saying." Further, O'Reilly described as "ridiculous" a caller's efforts to base his view of the war by "reading the Internet and the newspapers and forming a definitive opinion [based] upon what they say."
But those same analysts in whom O'Reilly expressed unwavering trust -- whether for analysis of the current situation in Iraq or a potential military strike against Iran -- made numerous assertions and predictions in the lead-up to the Iraq war that were baseless and in many cases later proved false.
Col. Oliver North
An avid supporter of the Iraq war, North is the host of Fox News' War Stories, an occasional guest host for Sean Hannity on Hannity & Colmes, and a Fox News military analyst. North is a Marine veteran, famous for his leading role in the Iran-Contra affair. He served as an embedded reporter in Iraq for Fox News with the 1st Marine Regiment.
During the run-up to the Iraq war, North repeatedly made false or misleading claims that supported Bush administration justifications for invading Iraq. For instance, during the January 9, 2003, edition of Hannity & Colmes, North stated that "there's no doubt that the Iraqi regime is hiding weapons of mass destruction," but United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix would not find them because failure to find weapons "is part of this man's chemistry." North also "predict[ed]" that "you're going to see democracy work in Baghdad very, very quickly."
North repeatedly claimed, as he did on the January 14, 2003, edition of On the Record with Greta van Susteren, that an "Iraqi resistance" comprised of "all of the parties -- the Shi'a, the Sunni, the various Kurdish factions" would "declare a free, independent provisional government in northern Iraq." According to North, the provisional government would be established on the "20th, 21st, or thereabouts" of January 2003. According to North: "It is going to be big news. It may the kind of thing that pushes Saddam over the brink" and causes him to seek reprisal against the "provisional government."
On the January 20, 2003, edition of On the Record, when the "independent provisional government" had still not been established, North revised his claim, stating that "Iraqis of nine different factions representing the full political spectrum except for the fascist Ba'ath Party" were going to "declare independence, declare a free and independent ... provisional government ... in the next 30 days." North suggested that this provisional government would attempt to overthrow Saddam Hussein and it would be America's responsibility "to help them take their country back." Of course, no such "independent provisional government" materialized before the U.S. invasion.
Additionally, on the February 7, 2003, edition of Hannity & Colmes, North declared that despite France's refusal to endorse the U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution allowing the use of force against Iraq, "what's undoubtedly going to happen is that the French ... are going to come aboard at the last moment." During the same show, North also predicted that since "the regime in Baghdad is so inherently evil ... it's more than likely that Saddam's own people ... are going to take him out." North also claimed he would "be the most astounded person on the planet Earth if day three after this whole thing Saddam Hussein is still alive."
McInerney is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and founder the consulting firm Government Reform through Technology who has served as a Fox News military analyst since before the Iraq war. McInerney also served as CEO and other executive positions for defense contractor Loral Defense Systems-Eagan.
Prior to the Iraq war, McInerney also made a series of predictions regarding the impending invasion that later proved false . On the December 20, 2002, edition of On the Record, McInerney predicted that, should U.S. forces invade, "I think he's [Saddam] going to use chemical weapons and biological" weapons on the Iraqi people because "he wants the collateral damage on his own people." During the January 3, 2003, edition of On the Record, McInerney declared that "in the final analysis, France and Russia roll in" to assist in the Iraq war "even if it's outside the U.N." He concluded: "There's no question if it's inside the U.N., they'll be there."
McInerney also asserted during the same episode that invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam would actually improve public opinion of America in the Arab world, and predicted that the "jubilation in Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad" after the invasion "will silen[ce] the Arab street." According to McInerney: "There has not been a family in Iraq who has not been hurt by that man [Saddam], and so, once that is opened up, once those weapons of mass destruction that are exposed over there, once all this evil that this man has done, they're going to go dead quiet, as will the critics in the United States." Further, McInerney claimed on the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record that the Iraq war would last "at the most one month," but it would "probably [be] a two-week campaign" -- a prediction shared by another Fox News military analyst, Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, who claimed on the January 2, 2003, edition of On the Record that "it's going to be a very quick campaign, within 30 days."
Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr.
Scales is a retired major general, having served longer than 30 years in the U.S. Army. Scales served as president and CEO of Walden University in 2000 and as president of Capstar Government Services. He is a military analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio.
As with most other Fox News military analysts, Scales supported the invasion of Iraq and made several assertions prior to the war that later proved to be false. For instance on the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record, Scales claimed that since "this operation is going to go so quickly," and would "be over so fast," the U.S. military wouldn't have to worry about "suicide attack[s] or even a conventional defense, for that matter." Additionally, Scales asserted that "[o]nce the campaign starts," it would last "weeks, certainly not months," and "[t]he only thing that would cause the campaign to last any length of time are the distances that are involved" between Iraqi cities.
Maginnis is a retired lieutenant colonel who has served as the Pentagon's inspector general and as an adviser to the Defense Department Military Working Group, set up in 1993 by the Department of Defense to address the issue of gays in the miliary. Additionally, Maginnis served as a policy adviser for the conservative Family Research Council. Maginnis has been a Fox News military analyst since at least 2002, during which time he reportedly was a member of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's Military Analyst Group.
In the months leading to the Iraq war, Maginnis frequently appeared on Fox News and made various misleading and baseless claims. For example, Maginnis suggested on December 19, 2002, that chemical warfare was going to be a large component of the war and claimed that the Iraqi military was "going to have ... almost booby-trapped use of some chemicals in some built-up areas where civilians are going to be casualties." Maginnis repeated this assertion -- that Iraqi leaders were booby-trapping residential areas with chemical or biological weapons -- on the January 15, 2003, edition of On the Record, stating: "[N]ot only [do] they develop them, they hide them. ... They know exactly where these things are. ... [T]hey are in residential areas, and they probably have some of the things that we've heard about," such as "smallpox material that's been weaponized." On the January 30, 2003, edition of On the Record, Maginnis responded to a Gallup poll indicating that a majority of Americans said "they expected thousands of deaths" from the war, claiming that while "we can't dismiss" the possibility that thousands of deaths would occur, "the reality is that we're not going to see that." On February 3, 2003, he suggested that the reason U.N. weapons inspections turned up empty was "because some of the information somehow got out to the wrong people, and they were able to sanitize the site before the inspectors arrived," perhaps because Iraqis "infiltrated" the inspection teams.
Hunt, according to his Fox News biography, "has over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations," where he worked in national intelligence and national security fields.
Hunt, whom O'Reilly has described as "the feistiest guy we have" [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/27/03], repeatedly attempted to link Saddam to terrorism, predicted that the U.N.'s refusal to support U.S. military action in Iraq signaled "the end of the United Nations" [The O'Reilly Factor, 3/7/03], and suggested that Saddam would "torch his country in facing the United Nations inspectors" [The Big Story with John Gibson 12/19/02]. Hunt added that the Pentagon's mere assertion of that possibility "is all we need" to invade Iraq. Additionally, Hunt leveled harsh attacks against mainstream newspapers, which he said did not portray a sufficiently positive picture of the initial fighting. On the March 27, 2003, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Hunt called the reporting by The New York Times and others "treacherous, one step below traitorous ... [b]ecause what they're distorting, heroic action on the part of men and women of the services, to back up their own very stilted point of view." Further, Hunt mocked retired Gen. Wesley Clark's apparent suggestion on CNN that the troops lacked sufficient armored vehicles, a claim that was later proved to be accurate, stating: "Excuse me. There aren't enough armored vehicles? Wah, wah, wah."
From the April 14 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: No, listen. And, and that's the way it is, not only in the military, as you know, [caller], but in any company. If you go into the CEO's office and say, "Hey, look, you're an incompetent boob," the guy's gonna move you out. You're gonna get in trouble.
But there are a bunch of retired generals -- Tommy Franks among them -- who say the opposite of these generals. Now, to be fair, I don't know. I, again, just as I said, I have to go on what my military analysts, people paid by Fox News say to me. That's what -- I can't base my opinion on anything else. I'm trying to get across to [a previous caller] -- [the previous caller is] reading the Internet and the newspapers and forming a definitive opinion based upon what they say. That's ridiculous.
All right. The newspapers, number one, all have an agenda, and number two, they can only give you a snapshot of the war. Only a snapshot.
But you're right, there is, there is a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam. And there is a parallel there, but Iraq is so much more important than Vietnam was. Oh my God. Although it didn't feel so at the time, but if you look back in history, this is just vital, vital. Which is why I'm giving the administration, cutting them a little slack.
O'REILLY: Now, subsequently, two full years, the United States made mistake after mistake. Now, some of those mistakes were political, all right? Some of them were putting people in positions of authority; you didn't know what they were doing. But they didn't, we didn't get anywhere, anywhere at all. For two years, two full years. We made no progress in Iraq toward pacifying the country.
All right. Now that's on Rumsfeld and Bush. It's on both of them. Screw up huge. But in the last year, things have started to change according to all of our military sources. Even the guys who think that this whole thing is crazy, like Colonel Hunt. Even those guys say it's getting better. They reorganized; the Iraqis are getting trained at a much faster clip; the Army is OK now, where it was a disaster before. They got some generals in charge, and things are looking up, OK? Things are getting better.
Al Qaeda's been hurt; the Sunnis are on the run, even though they're bombing still. It's not nearly as intense as it was. So I believe those reports. I could be wrong. I have to base my analysis on what our Fox News military analysts, who I think are the best and always been the best, are saying. And they're saying things are getting better.
From the February 7, 2003, edition of Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Meanwhile, Hans Blix says Iraq is showing some effort to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. Is Saddam up to his old tricks again? Joining us from Washington is the host of the great TV show, War Stories, Fox News military analyst, our good friend, Colonel North.
Colonel, as you see here, this is a defining moment for the United Nations. Both you and I are on record. They're anti-Semitic, they're anti-American. This may be one of the great side benefits of this whole thing is that they render themselves impotent.
NORTH: Well, on top of that, your answer to your first question was, is Saddam up to his old tricks again? And the short answer is: yes. The good news is that within a matter of days we will have in position sufficient force with or without the French, with or without anyone except the British. We can easily deal with the situation on the ground in Iraq.
And what's undoubtedly going to happen is that the French, who have been doing everything they can to delay and delay and delay the inevitable, are going to come aboard at the last moment.
NORTH: Well what you are also hearing nowadays, of course, is that the United States shouldn't be doing this. You are hearing that from the Susan Sarandon left here in this country. You are hearing it from the French, you're hearing it from the Germans, all for different reasons.
The reality of it is that this the regime in Baghdad is so inherently evil that it's more than likely, according to some that I have talked to, that Saddam Hussein isn't going to pull a Noriega, as some are now saying. Gosh, look how long it took us to get Noriega out of the Vatican consulate down in Panama. The fact is, it's more than likely that Saddam's own people, as we're closing in on him, are going to take him out.
NORTH: Let me try a name. [Inaudible], remember how he went? Didn't take an American bullet. He was taken out by he his own people. And I will tell you, Sean, I will be the most astounded person on the planet Earth if day three after this whole thing Saddam Hussein is still alive. I think he's going to die at the hands of his own people.
From the January 20, 2003, edition of On the Record:
NORTH: Well, it just strikes me, [Dr.] Jim [Jennings], and it's good to see you again, Jim, I'm glad that I could have served the U.S. Marines that defended your right to protest and some died face down in the mud defending it.
I just challenge your thinking on this thing, Jim, as to what you would do having been to Baghdad, having seen that setup over there, what you're going to do and what the movement is going to do when at the end of this month, Iraqis, not Americans, but Iraqis of nine different factions representing the full political spectrum except for the fascist Ba'ath Party, declare independence, declare a free and independent provincial government -- or provisional government, what are you going to do when they decide that they want their country back? Are you going to stand aside and say, we have no right to help them take their country back?
JENNINGS: Well, I think that whether the Iraqis change their regime or not is the decision the Iraqis should make.
NORTH: But if they ask for our help, if this provisional government, which is likely to come about here in the next 30 days, if this provisional government, without instigation by the United States -- in fact, I'm told that our State Department has done everything possible --
From the January 14, 2003, edition of On the Record:
NORTH: Well, look, I mean, this guy's survived 31 coup attempts thus far. And there's no doubt that there are people are plotting that right as you and I are speaking now, sitting in Baghdad somewhere or somewhere else in Iraq, planning that very thing. What I think is a distinct possibility -- the 19th, the leaders of the Iraqi resistance are going to go into Iraq. They are going to sign, they say -- as of Friday, they've got 65 signatories to their declaration of independence, if you will. They expect that all of the parties -- the Shi'a the Sunni, the various Kurdish factions -- will all sign and they will declare a free, independent provisional government in northern Iraq.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the Kurdish area.
VAN SUSTEREN: And they -- OK, and there were many thousands who were killed back in 1995. Why would they do that again, unless they have some U.S. assurance that they will get back-up this time?
NORTH: I'm told, Greta, that they've gotten those assurances out of the Pentagon, that there's resistance at the State Department right now to proceeding this way, but my expectation is, Greta, we're going to see a provisional government announced probably on the 20th, 21st or thereabouts inside Iraq. It is going to be big news. It may be the kind of thing that pushes Saddam over the brink, and he reacts like he did in '95. On the other hand, there are many who believe that Saddam Hussein will simply sit back and say, So what? Now what are you going to do? And at that point, they've got to launch military operations against him.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so that's -- that's January 20, or about that time. And we're hearing about all these deployments and that the military -- the U.S. military will be ready mid-February. If, indeed, this happens, the trigger is pulled January 20, now what?
NORTH: The units that I have seen that are now going, and some of which are already over there, about a third of the troop strength is now on the ground. We've just committed another carrier. Carl Vinson just left last Friday out of Bremerton. What we're about to see is a major deployment offshore in both the Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf, southwest Asia, Arabian Sea area, and the Indian Ocean. You're going to see a lot of capability to keep them there for a protracted period of time. The U.S. Marine Corps on Friday announced every single person on active duty in the United States Marine Corps remains on active duty for at least a year.
VAN SUSTEREN: So we -- we could this time -- if they do do that and if the trigger gets pulled, so to speak, January 20, we can give them the cover that they need, these people who would be rebellious and us?
NORTH: There are special operations troops on the ground right now, able to do so, and in the area. There are Marine capabilities out there. Very soon, there'll be Army capabilities with light infantry and with units like the 101st.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we'll have to -- January 20, we'll all be watching.
From the January 9, 2003, edition of Hannity & Colmes:
NORTH: Well, Alan, there's no doubt that the Iraqi regime is hiding weapons of mass destruction and the evidence that would lead the inspectors to conclude that.
One must ask themselves how sincere Inspector Clouseau is -- I mean Hans Blix is -- about actually trying to find this stuff.
You may well know, and perhaps others need to know this as well that the military organizations like the Special Republican Guard, which is headed by Saddam Hussein's son, Qusay, the heir apparent to the throne. The Special Republican Guard isn't even on the list that Hans Blix has to go look for things, because it's a, quote, "military unit."
COLMES: What is Saddam --
NORTH: Wait, wait, this is important now. If you're not going to look in the military units that are most likely to have the weapons -- and there appears to be several hundred of them missing from the inventory that was left off in 1998, then you're never going to find them, as Ari Fleischer said.
COLMES: Well, apparently the United States is now just starting to share more intelligence with the inspections teams. They've held back on sharing some of that intelligence information up until now. Are you accusing Hans Blix --
NORTH: For good reason.
COLMES: But are you accusing Hans Blix of purposely not wanting to find anything? Is he purposely not doing his job?
NORTH: I don't think it's purposely. I think this is part of this man's chemistry.
Can you name one weapon that Hans Blix has ever found? This is the guy who gave a clean bill of health to the North Koreans back in 1994. This is the guy who's been supposedly in charge of looking for war crimes and weapons of mass destruction all over the world. His entire 74 years of diplomacy, has never found any.
HANNITY: Do you think that -- you're involved with the people, this exiled government that's going to come out tomorrow for Iraq. Do you believe they're the people that will help democratization, if you will, in Iraq?
You know, people have been asking, what's going to happen after we topple Saddam? Because I believe it's inevitable, and probably within a month.
NORTH: I don't have the gift of prophecy, but I would predict to you, that you're going to see democracy work in Baghdad very, very quickly.
They have a remarkably well-educated population, it's very urbanized and it's very secular. There are a lot of expatriates who are going to return to help that country and they've got the resources.
Unlike Afghanistan, which relies on a lot of international aid, this is a country that has the resources in the oil, because it's the second-largest, you know, puddle of oil in the world.
And so what you're going to see is a country where democracy works. Then the real challenge -- and I'll give this to Alan, because he keeps asking that question and many on the left do, with good reason. What then?
Because the real challenge after democracy works in Baghdad is what happens in Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] and Damascus [Syria].
COLMES: That we're somehow less interested in our well-being of defense. I resent it. You're absolutely wrong.
And furthermore, what Bill Clinton talked about in 1998, was pinpoint attacks. He was not talking about an all-out war, which is what Bush is talking about. Stop misrepresenting what Bill Clinton did and what the left stands for.
NORTH: Alan Colmes, those weren't pinpoint attacks, they were pinprick attacks.
COLMES: He wasn't talking about an all-out war like this president is.
NORTH: It was a waste -- it was a waste of 75 perfectly good Cruise missiles that were dumped on all over the place and did absolutely nothing --
COLMES: And whenever Bill Clinton talked about doing anything --
NORTH: -- to stop Saddam Hussein from building weapons of mass destruction.
COLMES: ... you said he's just diverting attention from Monica Lewinsky. Every time he tried to respond, every time he did something, you guys accused him of doing it as a diversion and not doing it as a reaction to what's going on in the world.
NORTH: Alan, it wasn't my zipper that was down, it was Bill Clinton's zipper that was down that caused and created the diversion.
COLMES: That has nothing to do with defending our country. You diverted our attention for years because of that. That's all you wanted to talk about. And when Bill Clinton tried to respond to terrorism, you attacked him for wagging the dog. That's hypocrisy.
NORTH: He cranked that finger at us, the same one he used to tell us that he hadn't had sex with that woman --
COLMES: You can't stop bringing it up.
NORTH: -- and he warned everybody six times about people like --
COLMES: Get over it, Ollie. It's over!
NORTH: Six times, he wagged his finger at us and said that the people who blew up the World Trade Center and killed Americans were going to be punished for it. It ended up taking George W. Bush and, of course, 3,022 dead at the World Trade Center and here in Washington --
COLMES: Blame that on Bill Clinton.
NORTH: -- to make it out. Yes, I do.
From the January 3, 2003, edition of On the Record:
McINERNEY: Yes, I think they will. And I think that they will because they want to be involved with the reconstruction of Iraq and the future of what that holds for that region and the wealth that can be created through a democratic, secular Iraq. And so I think that's why you'll even see, in the final analysis, France and Russia roll in, even if it's outside the U.N. There's no question if it's inside the U.N., they'll be there.
JOHN LEHMAN (former secretary of the Navy): Well, this is, of course, a historic way of affecting morale on the home front, and it has had largely a very useful record in World War II and in Vietnam, we used to call them the "bull bombers." And it does have an effect. And the way we measure it is through our normal intelligence analysis and gathering in the region. And all -- from what I have heard, the indications are there's very widespread support among the people for getting rid of Saddam, and they fully expect that there's going to be military action.
And I think that they -- the critics who say this is going to turn the, quote, "Arab street" against us are really totally wrong. I don't think there's going to be any targeting of civilians. I think there's going to be huge effort to limit collateral casualties and that Saddam and the regime are clearly the target here, not the Arab people or -- or Islam. So I think that the net result in Arab opinion around the world after we get rid of Saddam will be a net increase in -- in approval of American action.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Mr. Secretary, I hope you're right.
But, General, let me ask you this, is that even as -- even today in Pakistan, burning President Bush in effigy. Across Pakistan people were demonstrating against the United States, not Iraq, but, nonetheless, related to our pending action against Iraq. What -- you know, what's this going to do for us?
McINERNY: Well, really, the secretary is right. I think John got it right on. There will be and there are problems in Pakistan. We fundamentally have got to understand [Pakistani President General Pervez] Musharraf has a challenge in Pakistan which needs to be dealt with separately. We need to help him.
But, clearly, when the jubilation -- and I spent five hours with an opposition general officer yesterday. When the jubilation in Mosul, Basrah, and Baghdad is seen in the Arab street just like when it was in Kabul [Afghanistan], that will silent the Arab street.
VAN SUSTEREN: What if it doesn't? I mean, I'm --
McINERNY: Well --
VAN SUSTEREN: -- I'm hopeful you're right, but what if it doesn't?
McINERNY: Let me tell you, it will. And here's why it will. Because all those reporters that are going to be over there and go in and start talking to the people -- and they can talk honestly to the life they led under Saddam Hussein.
There has not been a family in Iraq who has not been hurt by that man, and so, once that is opened up, once those weapons of mass destruction that are exposed over there, once all this evil that this man has done, they're going to go dead quiet, as will the critics in the United States.
From the December 30, 2002, edition of On the Record:
McINERNEY: Well, I think he's going to use chemical weapons and biological, and that's why the campaign that I would conduct or others would conduct, I believe, will -- and he wants the collateral damage on his own people, so if you conduct a campaign that bypasses cities, that does not put you where his people are.
And that's the other reason why Bret Baier and other of our [Fox News] anchor people are going out there, Greta, because the government wants our reporters, our TV people, sitting there and filming directly, any of this chemical or biological warfare, or, as soon as we discover their weapons of mass destruction, so we can beam this to the world. Now we can conduct a campaign in which we avoid most of those cities.
Now, as far as Colonel Maginnis's comment, he's talking about the worst-case option. I think you're going to find that there will not be a major battle in Baghdad.
From the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record:
VAN SUSTEREN: In five seconds, General McInerney, give me your hypothetical. What date does the first bomb drop?
McINERNY: Well, somewhere between the first and 15th of March, and it's two weeks to at the most one month, probably a two-week campaign.
VAN SUSTEREN: General Scales, to you. A senior Iraqi official is quoted as saying that there will be suicide attacks carried out on Americans in Iraq in the event that we attack Iraq. Your thoughts on that.
SCALES : Well, I -- you know, the -- this operation is going to go so quickly, and it's going to be over so fast, because of our ability to approach Baghdad from so many different directions and in so many different dimensions, that it just seems to me that this thing will be over long before the Iraqi military has time either to organize a suicide attack or even a conventional defense, for that matter.
VAN SUSTEREN: General McInerney, do you agree? You're not worried about these sort of futile words from a weak enemy?
McINERNY: Well, remember, it was going be the great battle for Baghdad, and I agree with what General Scales said. It's going to be fast. There will be onesies and twosies, but it will have no impact on the length of the war or the overall warfare.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you so confident about that?
McINERNY: Well, because we have the most awesome capability in the history of mankind against an adversary that is at best 30 percent what he was last time and it took us four days last time. It's going to be longer than four days
SCALES: It's -- it's hard to say. I would say that, as the president said, within weeks, this thing will go down, as soon as the forces are in place, and the forces are moving very quickly in the region, will be in place soon.
Once the campaign starts, weeks, certainly not months. The only thing that would cause the campaign to last any length of time are the distances that are involved.
Remember, if you approach Baghdad from three different directions, from the South in Kuwait, West in Jordan, from the North in Turkey, the route to Baghdad is 200, 200, and 300 miles, respectively. So there are large distances involved, much longer distances than we saw in the first Gulf War, and it takes a while to get there.
And the other -- of course, the key factor that everyone is concerned about is what if there is a last stand by the Republican Guard on the streets of Baghdad? How long will that take to culminate that campaign?
From the January 2, 2003, edition of On the Record:
VALLELY: These people that have just been there that have defected within the last six months, the psychological operations program that is going on now with Commando Solo, the broadcasting, the leaflets, the feedback I got today is very positive so far. So you're going to have a number of the Special Security Organization, 8,000 to 10,000, however many is there, the Special Republican Guard -- he's got some dedicated people that are there going to -- there -- and they're going to guard him.
But the information just over the last 10 years and as recently as today, the war of liberation will work. It's going to be done very skillfully by the coalition partners, and it's going to be a very quick campaign within 30 days.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I - I --
VALLELY: And Saddam Hussein will probably try to escape to Libya.
From the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record:
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what do you mean fairly compelling? I mean, that -- I mean, here's the thing that strikes me, is that if this -- if there's this so-called fairly compelling information, why didn't we hand it over to the inspectors in December so that they could go out and find the stuff so at least we could convince the allies? It would be a lot better if we're going with people.
MAGINNIS: Well, Greta, we have given some to the inspectors, and, unfortunately, some of it didn't get quite accomplished as we would like to have had it done. What we don't want to happen --
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why not?
MAGINNIS: Well, because some of the information somehow got out to the wrong people and they were able to sanitize the site before the inspectors arrived.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, wait a second. Back up. You think the inspectors -- that they're infiltrated by the Iraqis, that they're getting the information, or --
MAGINNIS: Well, whether they infiltrated or they got it through some sort of cyberlink or whatever, the information was compromised, and that's the sort of thing we have to preclude if we can.
Unfortunately, we're dealing with people that are fairly sophisticated at doing precisely this anti-inspector sort of routine. Qsay Hussein has been doing this for years. So they've been taking it out the back door as we arrive in the front door.
And the reality is that we don't want to compromise to the Chinese, the Russians, and other people who may use the information, the necessary information that we could provide, I think, a far more compelling case of signal intelligence, satellite intelligence, and other types of information.
We compromise that, and, as soon as we compromise it, it's not going to be able to be used against Saddam because he learns very quickly.
From the January 30, 2003, edition of On the Record:
Bob, our war planners -- are they doing what we may think is sort of the unthinkable, making estimates now as to what they expect the casualty loss will be if we go to war?
MAGINNIS: Well you absolutely have to. [Inaudible] stations have to stockpile coffins, they have to have enough body bags, they have to have enough medical equipment to treat the wounded, try to, you know, make sure we minimize the number of deaths. So, certainly, they put together those numbers.
You know, the -- there's a political calculation the administration has to consider. You know, how much pain is the country willing to take? You know, a recent Gallup poll indicated that, you know, a large part of this country -- I think it was 57, 58 percent -- said that, you know, they expected thousands of deaths.
Well, you know, I think the reality is that we're not going to see that. But we can't dismiss that outright.
From the January 15, 2003, edition of On the Record:
VAN SUSTEREN: But we can just do so much. If he uses -- if he uses civilians as human shields, if they -- if he has hidden -- suppose he's hidden anthrax and smallpox in the basement of civilians, I mean, and he's got mosques and hospitals.
I mean, in some ways, he's almost -- he's had four years to almost booby-trap -- I guess that's not the right word -- but make it a very difficult war for us, if we play by the rules, and we will.
MAGINNIS: Yes. Qusay Hussein, who is running the SSO, which is, you know, the special organization that's really secretive that is doing all of this, not only they develop them, they hide them, and they're going to prevent the UNMOVIC [United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] people from finding them. They know exactly where these things are.
Yes, they are in residential areas, and they probably have some of the things that we've heard about -- some of the smallpox material that's been weaponized in a place that he will never reveal until his -- after his death and somebody happens to say, oh, I just found this.
From the December 19, 2002, edition of On the Record:
VAN SUSTEREN: We've looked at his strategy. How do we switch gears to prevent him from doing massive damage to our own troops, biological, chemical weapons, the Scud missiles into Israel and Saudi Arabia, but more -- and also, of course, to his civilian population?
MAGINNIS: Well, short of a coup and the removal of that Revolutionary Council, right up front, that's going to be difficult because they're going to have these things that are pre-charged as a general outline on bridges. They're going to have dams that are pre-charged to flood the plains. They're going to have, you know, almost booby-trapped use of some chemicals in some built-up areas where civilians are going to be casualties.
From the March 27, 2003, edition of The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: In the "Impact" segment tonight, I'm doing my analysis of the war. I rely on the Fox News military analysts, as you just heard two of them, and our guys in field, who really have been excellent.
So when I read the newspapers and see the exact opposite of what we are reporting, I get a little anxious, and then I find out the newspaper is distorting stuff, I get angry. With us now is one of our go-to guys on the war, Colonel David Hunt.
Since you are our feistiest, you know, I mean, I'm sitting there, and I know the military doesn't read The New York Times and make policy about it. But between the newspapers, the L.A. Times and The New York Times, you're reaching five million people, a lot of those people are going to believe this stuff? You know?
And If I'm a military commander and after eight days I've got 14 KIAs [troops killed] in combat, that all, I mean, that's a magnificent performance. And these guys, fierce fighting, all of this, how do you read it?
HUNT: Well, first of all, the guys on the ground aren't reading this. I mean, there's nobody in the lead tank in the Third Brigade -- Third Infantry Division -- on the great Marines on the soft guys out in the west killing scuds that see The New York Times. That's a good thing.
I read it as treacherous, one step below traitorous, in that they know better. These are very intelligent men writing this. And they're lazy. It's Journalism 101. You know better than I do about that. They get an "F". They didn't even bother to check.
And when you break it down, the deaths as we just have, how after all the 300,000 deployments that the distance we have moved, the people we have had to fight, look, the only -- the first hospital we opened up in the field -- Marines opened up -- the first person we operated on was an Iraqi soldier. I mean, this -- this is the most unbelievable operation we have ever seen.
HUNT: Because what they're distorting, heroic action on the part of men and women of the services, to back up their own very stilted point of view. That's treacherous. I mean, here we have a phenomenal fight going on. Phenomenal. Moving 300 miles. We had units moving through that sandstorm. And then to turn around the next day and they say, well, they had this fight. None of our guys were killed. It was like -- rather than say, Marines heroically move forward, they say they're in some kind of horrendous battle, and that's the headlines.
O'REILLY: The other thing it does is that The New York Times service goes all over the world. All right? It goes to all of these things, and they're making these Iraqi fighters out to be heroes. The fierce resistance, the Fedayeen, when they're thugs. I mean, they're thugs. The only way they kill our guys, all right, again was faking a surrender.
HUNT: You can only get away with it once. You haven't noticed it happen again. They got lucky the first time. Again, we have been fighting this with restraint. Humanity. We captured entire divisions. You can let them go home. We operated -- the first guy who was operated on in the field is an enemy soldier.
HUNT: Unheard-of. The first thing we do is we give candy to the kids. We brought humanitarian aid in before fuel. We've done everything we can to make this war a liberation, and we have some people treacherously lying in press. It's -- it's almost treasonous. It's one step below treason, as far as I'm concerned.
O'REILLY: Well, here's a country, because it gives a perception that, number one, our war machine isn't effective. I mean, you know, this Iraqi resistance was -- is, you know, keeping us from accomplishing our goal, which isn't true. What's keeping us from accomplishing our goal is that we don't want to hurt any civilians.
HUNT: We're restraining ourselves. Let me add something to this. We have some retired four-star generals on other networks that are carping, and that's not helping.
O'REILLY: Well, Wesley Clark from CNN --
HUNT: He's running for president.
O'REILLY: Well, he's going to lose. But maybe he has a point. I want you to address this. He says there aren't enough armored vehicles in the theater.
HUNT: No. Excuse me. There aren't enough armored vehicles? They're outside of Baghdad. What do you mean? If that's -- you see the guys are doing -- you're not fighting the war the way I fought it. Wah, wah, wah. You're not fighting the way -- hey, Wes. Let me run it down for you. Eighty percent of the Yugoslav army drove away after you bombed them in Kosovo and all the other ones -- again it's terrible for them to do that -- back fighting their own brothers in arms while they are in combat. After combat, let's have a discussion. While they're there, shut up.
O'REILLY: Shut up. All right. Colonel, the feistiest guy we have. Thanks. I think everybody got the message, and we appreciate it.
From the March 7, 2003, edition of The O'Reilly Factor featuring guest host Cal Thomas:
THOMAS: [Then-White House press secretary] Ari Fleischer said today, and we only have about 30 seconds, Colonel, we really don't need, ultimately, the Germans and French and some of these others. We've got enough coalition forces, friends who support us to go ahead and do this anyway.
Should we in fact go ahead and do it anyway, even if the U.N. doesn't come along?
HUNT: Sure. I think there's two things that are going to happen. We're going to find out not going to war with the French is like bear hunting in Maine without a piano. It doesn't matter, one.
Two, I think that's going to be the end of the United Nations as it was, as you know back in the 1930s, with Italy. But, yes, I think we can.
THOMAS: Thanks very much for joining us. Appreciate it as always.
From the February 1, 2003, edition of On the Record:
VAN SUSTEREN: Shep, we'll all be watching. Thank you.
Let's bring back retired Marine Colonel John Garrett, retired Navy Captain Chuck Nash, and retired Army Colonel David Hunt.
Colonel Hunt, [Fox News host] Shep [Smith] just mentions this issue of pause that's been all over the media. Explain to me -- I -- let me explain my thought first. What's wrong with pausing even if they were pausing to sort of catch their breath and let the supply catch up and sort of get reorganized? I mean what's the big deal about that anyway?
HUNT: Nothing. And you can't -- the reason that it was crap coming out of people's mouths is that the people want to criticize this plan, this war. People who fought in the last war and should know better and shut up thought they had an issue by saying we've gone too far, and the supplies weren't catching up.
You just heard Ollie North and his Army units. There's nothing -- the supply train is always long. You always -- it's always a case where you want more fuel for your tanks and more water for your guys and more bullets so that somebody decided -- it got to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, pause means problem. Wrong.
Instead, they had to -- you have to refuel. A guy's got to get some sleep. They were seven or eight days without sleep. There's nothing wrong.
From the January 27, 2003, edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
HUNT: Well, the fear is that we lose any soldiers on coalition side. I also think the fear - my other fear would be we don't complete it as we didn't do 11 years ago.
NEIL CAVUTO (host): What do you mean?
HUNT: Well, I think 11 years ago when [inaudible] went -- once we kicked him out of Kuwait we should have done pivot steers with tanks in Baghdad and we wouldn't have this problem. We've got to be willing to complete the task. These are great airmen, sailors and marines. In the coalition, we've got Australia in there now. We've got - and the French will probably be in later, that deserve to get this job done right. So my fear would be that anybody gets killed on our side, and that we don't finish this guy off when we get to do it.
CAVUTO: Colonel, there does seem to be some argument back and forth, do we need U.N.? Do we need Germany and France and China and Russia to go along? What do you think if we ultimately do go, primarily on our own, obviously with help from England and Australia and a smattering of other countries, but without those big guns, does that make a difference?
HUNT: Well, I think from that -- I think we start from 9-11, then we've got the moral impetus, and clearly the ability to take care of whatever Saddam Hussein has on the ground. His military is not as good as it was 11 years ago. Any war is dangerous, but from a military standpoint this should not be difficult. I think what the French - the British are giving us some 30,000 great guys, the Australians are on board. I think the French are getting ready to give 12,000 plus a couple of ships even though they're talking like they won't. I think now that we've got Turkey in the north, it should not be difficult. But I think on the question of Hussein, this 6,500 chemical weapons that are missing, anthrax and VX is serious stuff. And what your guest is talking about is Ansar al-Islam, is the terrorist group in Kurdistan that is linked to the incident in England.
From the December 19, 2002, edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:
JOHN GIBSON (host): More on Iraq.
Pentagon intelligence says Saddam Hussein is liable to do just about anything if he's backed into a corner, and he could torch his country's infrastructure and then try to blame it on the Americans to get worldwide sympathy. He could also unleash chemical and biological weapons on our troops and whoever else is in the area. So what is the best offense against a scorched-earth defense?
Retired colonel and Fox military analyst David Hunt joins us from Boston. Now, first of all, just this calculation that Saddam Hussein would inflict a scorched-earth policy on his own country, is that a reasonable assumption on his part based on what he did in Kuwait?
HUNT: Sure. I mean, he proved that he did it-- he proved that he can do it. He's willing to do it.
Just the fact -- can you imagine a leader of any nation saying things -- by the way, people that worship me, if things get bad, I'm going to torch you.
I mean, it's incredible that, in this day and age, we've got people leading countries that can actually say that type of a thing, and the way to prevent it is scorch him first.
GIBSON: Well, OK. Let's move on that. If the Pentagon believes he might do such a thing, how do you get there ahead of him?
HUNT: One thing which we've started to do is to tell the leadership of his military, his intelligence community, oh, by the way, they -- you know, crimes against humanity, we're going to come after you with, after we finish taking care of your boss. You tell people that's wrong, one.
Two, you're -- you target their ability to do this, and, if they so much as blink at doing something like this, we would have to do a preemptive strike, and it would, obviously, be from the air. It would, obviously, probably have to do with some kind of special-operations mission.
But we would -- you have to move very quickly, and we have the forces right there in theater in Kuwait with the Third Infantry Division -- we've got them in Turkey -- we've got them all over the place -- that we could move in in advance to stop something this horrific, like he did in Kuwait, and, this time, he's talking about torching his own country.
GIBSON: Well --
HUNT: It's amazing.
GIBSON: Well, what actually -- what do we think he is planning to do? I mean, what are we talking about when we say scorched-earth on his own country?
HUNT: Yes. Well, he blows up his infrastructure. He destroys hospitals. He does -- if the article's correct, he wants to do things that he can blame us for. So that would mean killing innocent noncombatants, innocent people -- men, women, and children -- not soldiers. It's horrific to think about.
And what you do -- what he'd do is you -- he could preset explosives. He could use his own air force. He could use his own artillery. He could simply blow up pipelines. I mean, there's a lot of terribly sadistic things that any leader could do to his own country. He knows his infrastructure.
The fact is this guy's talking about it ahead of time. I mean, we've got the secretary of state talking about, you know, another material breach. I think the article today is all we need. I mean, if you've got some guy talking about torching his country in facing the United Nations inspectors, it's time to have him go away.