Critics of the administration's handling of the Iraq crisis routinely include in their comments that Bush, at worst, lied about, and at best, exaggerated, the imminency of the threat that Iraq posed.
We, therefore, turn to a few pre-war quotations. At his February speech before the Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell remarked that "[t]he gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world. Let me now turn to those deadly weapons programs and describe why they are real and present dangers to the region and to the world."
In his State of the Union address, Bush stated that "America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country and our friends and our allies."
In October 2002, Bush stated that "the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant [Hussein] who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people"
On his own campaign website, Bush (or his surrogate) argues that Iraq posed an "imminent threat."
Reports in the Guardian reveal that the administration was mindful not to specifically refer to Hussein's threat as "imminent", so euphamisms were used: "Writing to the chairman of the joint intelligence committee, John Scarlett, and to Tony Blair's chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell, Mr Powell cautioned against claiming there was any evidence that Saddam was an imminent threat. "'We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim we have evidence that he [Saddam Hussein] is an imminent threat,' Mr Powell wrote on September 17. "A week later, on September 24, the dossier was published - with a foreward describing Saddam Hussein as presenting a "serious and current threat". In November 2002, Rumsfeld pondered the meaning of "imminent". "Was the attack then an imminent threat two, three, or six months before? When did the attack on September 11th become an imminent threat, when was it sufficiently dangerous? Now transport yourself forward ... if Saddam Hussein were to take his weapons of mass destruction and transfer them, or use them himself, or transfer them to the al Qaeda, and some of the al Qaeda were to engage in an attack on the United States or on U.S. forces overseas with weapons of mass destruction, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" Rumsfeld again: "Now, at what moment was the threat to -- for September 11th imminent? Was it imminent a week before, a month before, a year before, an hour before? Was it imminent before you could -- while you could still stop it, or was it imminent only after it started and you couldn't stop it, or you could stop one of the three planes instead of two or all three? These are very tough questions." Wolfowitz in 2002: Another question that I’m often asked, is “why act now, why not wait until the threat is imminent?” Again, it seems to me this question has a fairly simple answer. It was expressed very clearly by Senator Joseph Lieberman in the Rose Garden, the day the original Joint Resolution on the Use of Force was introduced. He said, “I have felt for more than a decade now that every additional day that Saddam Hussein is in power in Iraq is an additional day of danger for the Iraqi people, for his neighbors in the region, particularly for the people in the military of the United States, and indeed, for the people of the world.” Condoleeza Rice: The Iraqi regime's violation of every condition set forth by the U.N. Security Council for the 1991 cease-fire fully justifies -- legally and morally -- the enforcement of those conditions. It is also true that since 9/11, our nation is properly focused as never before on preventing attacks against us before they happen. ...some threats are so potentially catastrophic -- and can arrive with so little warning, by means that are untraceable -- that they cannot be contained. Extremists who seem to view suicide as a sacrament are unlikely to ever be deterred. And new technology requires new thinking about when a threat actually becomes "imminent." So as a matter of common sense, the United States must be prepared to take action, when necessary, before threats have fully materialized." Of course the administration argued that Hussein's threat was imminent, in that it was "at hand", "menacing", "perilous." Obviously the word "imminent" can be interpreted many ways. No war critic is arguing that the Bushies made it seem as if the threat was so great as to be unavoidable, but Bush and his crew repeatedly called the Hussein threat an imminent one, whether they used that actual adjective or other, similar ones.