On February 5, 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the UN Security Council that would go down in infamy. Over the course of a 76-minute briefing that was broadcast to millions across the world, Powell asserted that the US had ironclad evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was covertly developing weapons of mass destruction.
“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by solid sources,” he confidently declared. “These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”
To bolster his case, Powell presented satellite photos, audio recordings of intercepted conversations between Iraqi soldiers, testimonies from high-level defectors, and even a tiny vial of white powder that was meant to serve as a symbol for Baghdad’s supposed anthrax program. At first glance, the evidence seemed both robust and dramatic.
Read more: Making the Case for War: 20 Years Ago, Colin Powell Lied to the UN