From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
"grave and gathering danger" vs. "imminent threat"

January 29, 2004 9:18 AM

Today's Progress Report seeks to disprove Scott McClellan's claim that the administration never used the phrase "imminent threat," but instead used "grave and gathering danger." In doing so, they were very deceptive:

But almost exactly a year ago, it was McClellan who said the reason NATO should go along with the Administration's Iraq war plan was because "this is about imminent threat."

To say this is evidence of the administration using the exact phrase "imminent threat" to characterize the threat Saddam posed to America is very, very deceptive. McClellan was referring to Turkey. Here's the actual context:

QUESTION: What about NATO's role? Belgium now says it will veto any attempt to provide help to Turkey to defend itself. Is this something the administration can live with, or is it a major obstacle?

MR. McCLELLAN: Two points. We support the request under Article IV of Turkey. And I think it's important to note that the request from a country under Article IV that faces an imminent threat goes to the very core of the NATO alliance and its purpose.

QUESTION: What can you do about this veto threat?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think what's important to remind NATO members, remind the international community is that this type of request under Article IV goes to the core of the NATO alliance.

QUESTION: Is this some kind of ultimate test of the alliance?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is about an imminent threat.

Don't get me wrong, the administration clearly told the world that Saddam was an imminent threat, and McClellan's insistence that they never used that phrase is irrelevant. They never felt it necessary to correct the people who interpreted "grave and gathering danger" as "imminent threat" last year.

The National Security Council broadened the definition of "imminent threat" in 2002 to sync up with the Bush doctrine of pre-emption:

For centuries, international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves against forces that present an imminent danger of attack. Legal scholars and international jurists often conditioned the legitimacy of preemption on the existence of an imminent threat—most often a visible mobilization of armies, navies, and air forces preparing to attack.

We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction—weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.

UPDATE 1/30/04: Here's Sirota's response.

More from the archive in Lies and Deceit, Terrorism, War and Peace.

"grave and gathering danger" vs. "imminent threat" (01.29.2004)

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Read the 6 comments.


McCLELLAN's remarks WERE about Turkey.

The problem was that if the US invaded Iraq, what was the likelyhood that Turkey would be attacked.

The idea was that an invasion of Iraq would result in an immediate threat to Turkey, exactly as McClellan said.

They were trying to get NATO involved to protect Turkey, if the need arose.

You're as twisted as Michael Moore.

Fri Sep 24 2004 12:47 PM

Jim Gilliam:

huh? That's exactly the point I made in the post, bob. "McClellan was referring to Turkey."

Fri Sep 24 2004 1:03 PM


sorry about the double post, but I got a msg saying 1st didn't take.

Just one more thing.

If you want to know who DID use the term "immediate threat," and who WAS referring to the danger to the USA, check this out,...


"When______________ was asked by CNN's John King about President Bush's labeling of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil." His response: "You know, the most imminent, clear and present threat to our country is not the same from those three countries. I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country. ." (you're gonna love it =-)

...and while you're at it, maybe you would like to say what David Kay REALLY said about Iraqi WMD, istead of just taking Kennedy's word for it.


Fri Sep 24 2004 1:11 PM


Jim, sorry I don't have time now, but I've bookmarked this and will get back to you later, probably Sunday.

2 things, what do I do to reference urls in a post, and why bash Bush about just not objecting to Kerry's accusing him of calling Iraq an imminent threat?

If Bush answered all of Kerry's false charges, that's all he would be doing.

gotta go, but I'll be back.

Fri Sep 24 2004 1:17 PM


No, I don't see any reason to get a TypeKey I.D.

I really just have one more comment, and that is, if you knew McClellan was referring to Turkey, there is no point to your whole article. You haven't proven anything, because he was talking about a totally different scenario.

Reading your article was, as David Letterman might say, "It's a long way to go, to find the store is closed."

Oh yes, and it was John Edwards who very cleary said that Iraq was an "imminent threat." But, hey, that was then. By now everyone has forgotten, and Edwards and Kerry can make up anything they please, because you don't always have to fool all the people all the time.


Sun Sep 26 2004 2:39 PM

Jim Gilliam:

The point of the post was to criticize the Center for American Progress for distorting what McClellan said about "imminent threat." Did you *read* the post?

Sun Sep 26 2004 10:59 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


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