Politicians have had to sell the public on going to war since Colonial times, but they never had the arsenal of advertising and communications techniques the Bush administration is using to sell a possible war on Iraq. Bob Simon reports on those techniques and those employed by the elder Bush prior to the 1991 Gulf War.
Simon reminds viewers that a horrible story spread widely by the first Bush administration prior to the Gulf War about Kuwaiti babies pulled from incubators by invading Iraqis turned out not to be true. The current Bush administration may be also misinforming the public in its efforts to justify a possible second war with Saddam Hussein.
One example of misinformation, according to physicist and former weapons inspector David Albright, was the Bush administration's leak to the media in September about Iraq's attempt to import aluminum tubes which administration officials claimed were headed for Iraq's nuclear program.
"I think it was very misleading," says Albright, who directs the Institute for Science and International Security. Albright says the tubes could be possibly used for a nuclear program, but were more suited to conventional weapons production. Government experts thought that too, Albright tells Simon, but administration officials "were selectively picking information to bolster a case that the Iraqi nuclear threat was more imminent than it is, and, in essence, scare people."
Simon's report examines the administration's use of Madison Avenue to produce an ad campaign aimed at improving the image of America in the Muslim world. He also interviews a former CIA agent who investigated the oft-mentioned report that hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague several months before the deadly attacks on 9/11.
Despite a lack of evidence that the meeting took place, the item was cited by administration officials as high as Vice President Dick Cheney and ended up being reported so widely that two-thirds of Americans polled by the Council on Foreign Relations believe Iraq was behind the terrorist attacks of 9/11.