Saturday, June 21, 2003
Bush Speech Overstated Iraq Report by Walter Pincus
In a nationally televised address last October in which he sought to rally congressional support for a resolution authorizing war against Iraq, President Bush declared that the government of Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to the United States by outlining what he said was evidence pointing to its ongoing ties with al Qaeda.
A still-classified national intelligence report circulating within the Bush administration at the time, however, portrayed a far less clear picture about the link between Iraq and al Qaeda than the one presented by the president, according to U.S. intelligence analysts and congressional sources who have read the report.
The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which represented the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community, contained cautionary language about Iraq's connections with al Qaeda and warnings about the reliability of conflicting reports by Iraqi defectors and captured al Qaeda members about the ties, the sources said.
No WMDs, no al-Qaeda link. But they do have oil there, don't they?
Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence
[General Wesley] Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS Evening News story that aired on September 4, 2002. As correspondent David Martin reported: "Barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, the secretary of defense was telling his aides to start thinking about striking Iraq, even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks." According to CBS, a Pentagon aide's notes from that day quote Rumsfeld asking for the "best info fast" to "judge whether good enough to hit SH at the same time, not only UBL." (The initials SH and UBL stand for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.) The notes then quote Rumsfeld as demanding, ominously, that the administration's response "go massive...sweep it all up, things related and not."
Despite its implications, Martin's report was greeted largely with silence when it aired. Now, nine months later, media are covering damaging revelations about the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, yet still seem strangely reluctant to pursue stories suggesting that the flawed intelligence-- and therefore the war-- may have been a result of deliberate deception, rather than incompetence. The public deserves a fuller accounting of this story.
So, let's demand it!
Caving In: Guess who's appeasing the Taliban now? by Michael Tomasky
Last week a Pakistani jihadi leader told the Asia Times that he had set up a meeting between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials and Taliban leaders to discuss the seriously deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. At the meeting, held at a Pakistani air-force base, FBI officials floated the possibility that the Taliban might have a role in the future Afghan government on four conditions: that Mullah Omar be removed as leader, that foreign combatants engaged in fighting against U.S. and allied troops be deported, that any captive allied soldiers be released and that Afghans currently living abroad be brought into the government.
Well. The first thing you may be wondering: Why is there a possible role for the Taliban in a future government? Isn't that fellow Hamid Karzai running things, and isn't it all going basically OK? As it turns out, not really and not at all. In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush recognized Karzai in the House gallery, along with a then-newly appointed Afghan director of women's concerns. The impression was conveyed that things were under some semblance of control, and the Congress and the media applauded and moved on.
The reality, according to the Asia Times account -- and it practically goes without saying that this report has not filtered its way into the U.S. press -- is an escalating guerilla war in which "small hit-and-run attacks are a daily feature in most parts of the country, while face-to-face skirmishes are common in the former Taliban stronghold around Kandahar in the south."
This sounds just like the situation now emerging in Iraq.
The Impeachable Offense by Geov Parrish
The unprovoked invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq should never have happened. Instead, the White House claimed that Bush spent several months allegedly agonizing over whether to launch an invasion he had already approved.
Before and after his secret decision, for at least half a year, his Administration's claims were largely false. If Bush himself didn't know that, he should have.
If he did know it, he has lied to Congress--just like Clinton--and to America and the world, but repeatedly and on a far more serious matter than the definition of "sex." Bush, instead, used his lies to intentionally sacrifice the lives of American soldiers--along with other coalition soldiers and countless Iraqis, soldier and civilian alike.
For this egregious abuse of his oath of office, George W. Bush should be impeached.
Truth is the weapon of Bush's self-destruction by Harvey Wasserman
Bush’s litany of lies grows daily. In the short term, they demoralize the opposition.
The mainstream media does its part by dismissing those abundant, articulate critics who don’t, like Paul Wellstone, conveniently wind up dead.
But in a world that demands non-violent resistance, there is no alternative to perseverance, and no greater weapon than an adversary’s own lies.
It took a world war and forty million deaths to rid the world of the Nazi plague. Thus far Bush has killed thousands to conquer Afghanistan and Iraq, and shows no compunction about killing more.
His environmental and other policies have doomed millions worldwide, and threaten the life support systems on which we all depend.
But the Superpower of Truth can number his days.
The Most Dangerous Lie by Pamela Troy
Recently we invaded a weak country that had not attacked us, offering as a rationale its possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Many of us expressed our skepticism for this rationale in large demonstrations against the war. Now it has become apparent that the claim that Iraq possessed WMD was a lie. And recently, some liberals and progressives have been rubbing their hands in anticipation of the Bush Administration crashing and burning.
I hope they are right. I think lying to America and the rest of the world about our reasons for going to war is a good reason for impeachment. But one thing that is being overlooked, I fear, is the nature of the lie we were told, and the extent to which many Americans were and apparently are still willing to participate in it.
The rationales for the war I heard over and over again from my fellow Americans were not so much about Hussein's possession of WMDs, but about the fact that Iraq is an Islamic country that we dislike, and therefore Hussein was a reasonable stand-in for Osama bin Laden. Running through the arguments was often the assumption that the United States possesses a unique moral right to invade any country it wants to invade, topple any government it dislikes. The "Greater Truth" behind the lie of Saddam's possession of WMD is the barely concealed doctrine of American exceptionalism, an idea that appeals so strongly to the unthinking arrogance of many American citizens that it seems well on its way to graduating from "Greater Truth" to an openly held conviction.
The Case of the Missing WMDs by Gene Healy
Some war critics can barely contain their glee about the missing Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But they may be setting themselves up for a fall. As the Bush administration constantly reminds us, Iraq is a big country, and the weapons may yet turn up. If they do, does that mean the administration is vindicated?
Hardly. The focus on missing weapons threatens to obscure the larger point: that with or without chemical and biological weapons, Iraq was never a national security threat to the United States.
Friday, June 20, 2003
More Missing Intelligence by Robert Dreyfuss
As the Pentagon scours Iraq for weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to Al Qaeda, it's increasingly obvious that the Bush Administration either distorted or deliberately exaggerated the intelligence used to justify the war against Iraq. But an even bigger intelligence scandal is waiting in the wings: the fact that members of the Administration failed to produce an intelligence evaluation of what Iraq might look like after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Instead, they ignored fears expressed by analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department who predicted that postwar Iraq would be chaotic, violent and ungovernable, and that Iraqis would greet the occupying armies with firearms, not flowers.
Astonishingly, the Bush Administration did not even bother to prepare and internally publish an intelligence estimate about postwar Iraq. (An "estimate," in intelligence jargon, is a formal evaluation produced after sifting, sorting and analyzing various bits and pieces of raw intelligence. So-called National Intelligence Estimates are produced by a unit that reports immediately to Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet.) "Back in the old days, there would have been an estimate," says Raymond McGovern, the twenty-seven-year CIA warrior who formed Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity this past January. "In their arrogance, they didn't worry about it."
[The Nation, 6/19/03]
The First Casualty by John B. Judis & Spencer Ackerman
"What we must not do in the face of a mortal threat," Cheney instructed a Nashville gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in August 2002, "is give in to wishful thinking or willful blindness." Cheney's admonition is resonant, but not for the reasons he intended. The Bush administration displayed an acute case of willful blindness in making its case for war. Much of its evidence for a reconstituted nuclear program, a thriving chemical-biological development program, and an active Iraqi link with Al Qaeda was based on what intelligence analysts call "rumint." Says one former official with the National Security Council, "It was a classic case of rumint, rumor-intelligence plugged into various speeches and accepted as gospel."
In some cases, the administration may have deliberately lied. If Bush didn't know the purported uranium deal between Iraq and Niger was a hoax, plenty of people in his administration did--including, possibly, Vice President Cheney, who would have seen the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Rice and Rumsfeld also must have known that the aluminum tubes that they presented as proof of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were discounted by prominent intelligence experts. And, while a few administration officials may have genuinely believed that there was a strong connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, most probably knew they were constructing castles out of sand.
The Bush administration took office pledging to restore "honor and dignity" to the White House. And it's true: Bush has not gotten caught having sex with an intern or lying about it under oath. But he has engaged in a pattern of deception concerning the most fundamental decisions a government must make. The United States may have been justified in going to war in Iraq--there were, after all, other rationales for doing so--but it was not justified in doing so on the national security grounds that President Bush put forth throughout last fall and winter. He deceived Americans about what was known of the threat from Iraq and deprived Congress of its ability to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the country to war.
Demand White House Evidence on Iraq
Whereas, the Bush Administration based its case for war with Iraq on a series of claims, purportedly based on intelligence, about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; and
Whereas, the people's right to know is fundamental to a democratic society; and
Whereas, the distortion or manipulation of intelligence evidence to bolster a case for going to war would be a fundamental abuse of our democracy;
Now be it therefore resolved that I do hereby join with Rep. Dennis Kucinich in calling for the release of the evidence concerning the 10 public statements listed below. We, the people, have the right to know the truth.
Visit the Kucinich website here.
Science Friction by Nicholas Thompson
The administration's stem-cell stand is just one of many examples in which the White House has made policies that defy widely accepted scientific opinion. In mid-June, the Bush administration edited out passages in an E.P.A. report that described scientific conerns about the potential risks from global warming, according to The New York Times. That same week, the American Medical Association announced its disagreement with restrictions that the Bush adminstration has proposed on cloning embryos for medical research. Why this administration feels unbound by the consensus of academic scientists can be gleaned, in part, from a telling anecdote in Nicholas Lemann's recent New Yorker profile of Karl Rove. When asked by Lemann to define a Democrat, Bush's chief political strategist replied, "Somebody with a doctorate." Lemann noted, "This he said with perhaps the suggestion of a smirk." Fundamentally, much of today's GOP, like Rove, seems to smirkingly equate academics, including scientists, with liberals.
[Washington Monthly, July/August 2003 issue]
You know, smart people.
The Masters of Spin by Eleanor Clift
This is the most arrogant administration in memory. Every day brings another issue where a careful observer of the political scene cannot believe what’s happening. The latest outrage has the White House spinmeisters editing a report by the EPA on the status of the environment to omit mounting concern about climate change. The spinners have already stricken the phrase “global warming” in favor of the more benign “climate change.” The offending line declared, “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.” In its place, the White House inserted a bunch of gobbledygook about how the “complexity of the Earth system” and various “interconnections” make it a challenge to render scientific judgments.
Howls from environmentalists go unanswered. The administration’s attitude is like the phone company before the breakup of AT&T when Lily Tomlin, the comedic actress, appeared on stage as a telephone operator telling irate customers, “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”
Lip Service, National Service
President Bush speaks with passion and eloquence about the importance of volunteering. Especially since 9/11, the president has made creating "a new culture of service" a centerpiece of his domestic agenda. He has called for expanding AmeriCorps, the centerpiece national service program, from 50,000 to 75,000 volunteers. But that lofty rhetoric is colliding with a grim budgetary reality that could devastate AmeriCorps programs this year. The Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, announced Monday that one major part of the program would be cut from about 16,000 volunteers to 3,000. At best, the agency may be able to enroll only 28,000 new members this year.
[Washington Post editorial, 6/20/03]
U.S. Troops Frustrated With Role In Iraq by Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S. troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.
In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers complained that they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters evidently loyal to deposed president Saddam Hussein. Others questioned whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.
"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"
So where to we stand? (1) Saddam still alive and resisting; (2) no WMDs; (3) continued chaos; (4) armed Iraqis want us out. Yup, sounds like "Mission Accomplished" to me, Flyboy!
Saving Private Jessica by Nicholas D. Kristof
I've been roaming Iraq, turning over rocks in my unstinting effort to help the Bush administration find those weapons of mass destruction. No luck yet.
But I did find something related, here in the city where it seems (contrary to early Pentagon leaks) that Pfc. Jessica Lynch did not mow down Iraqis until her ammo ran out, was not shot and apparently was not plucked from behind enemy lines by U.S. commandos braving a firefight. It looks as if the first accounts of the rescue were embellished, like the imminent threat from W.M.D., and like wartime pronouncements about an uprising in Basra and imminent defections of generals. There's a pattern: we were misled.
None of this is to put down Private Lynch, whom her Iraqi doctors described as courageous and funny in the face of unrelenting pain; they said that she told Abdul Hadi, a hospital worker who had befriended her, not to take risks for her because he was needed by his 17 children. Ms. Lynch is still a hero in my book, and it was unnecessary for officials to try to turn her into a Hollywood caricature. As a citizen, I deeply resent my government trying to spin me like a Ping-Pong ball.
That's funny, most citizens seem to enjoy it.
With So Many Pinocchios in Power, What's a Kid to Think? by Susan E. Tifft
When I began teaching at Duke, I was pleased to find that the university had an honor code exhorting students to promise they wouldn't "lie, cheat or steal" in their academic endeavors. But now I regard the pledge as a quaint artifact.
How can young people take seriously such a vow when everywhere they look they see successful grown-ups getting ahead by playing fast and loose with the truth?
Every day brings fresh accusations that President Bush and his advisors stretched intelligence to get the United States into a war in Iraq, while the one feel-good story of the conflict — the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch — is looking increasingly phony. At least three independent media investigations (the British Broadcasting Corp., the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post) have cast doubt on the initial heroic narrative and questioned whether the military manipulated the episode for propaganda purposes.
Bush fries climate change by Derrick Z. Jackson
Undaunted by accusations of cooking the books for war, President Bush deep-fried the data on global warming.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the White House took a draft report on the state of the environment by the Environmental Protection Agency and deleted critical portions on climate change. The White House knocked out references to studies that directly mentioned industrial pollution and vehicle exhaust as contributors to global warming.
America's lust for oil hangs so ominously around the invasion of Iraq and in the denial of the impact of global warming that facts from intelligence agencies and scientific journals have become meaningless. One day, the dismissal of the facts will come back in a disastrous way. Bush and the United States may have the oil now. Meanwhile, the planet is cooking and frying.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
A mission in Iraq built on a lie by Robert Manne
In order to put the case for war, unambiguous evidence of Iraq's possession of such weapons had to be produced. As is becoming clear, the traditional gatherers of such intelligence - the CIA and the Pentagon's DIA - had reservations. To achieve greater certainty Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz created, inside the Pentagon, a new body called the Office of Special Plans, under the leadership of a neocon ex-Cold Warrior, Abram Shulsky. As Seymour Hersh has argued in a recent article in The New Yorker, it was through uncritical acceptance or even manipulation of intelligence supplied by Iraqi defectors that the Office of Special Plans was able to deliver the concrete evidence concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that the case for war required.
If Hersh is right, it was on the basis of this kind of highly politicised intelligence that Bush, Blair and Howard claimed to know for certain that Saddam had amassed a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons which were ready for use; that the production of such weapons was increasing in tempo; that it was almost certain that within a short few years Saddam would be in possession of nuclear weapons as well.
It now appears that every part of this assessment was false. If so, the conclusion seems inescapable. The Anglophone democracies invaded Iraq on the basis of a lie.
Building a bigger trough by Geov Parrish
Tuesday night, in a swank Washington ballroom, President George W. Bush, Leader of the Free Lunch, officially began collecting down payments on his second term. Before he's done, the money Bush raises will become, dollar for dollar, perhaps the single greatest exercise in public corruption in the history of politics.
What it adds up to is corruption on a scale that dwarfs that of any third rate third world kleptocrat in terms of the looting of the public treasury. Military contractors alone will probably be buying thousands of those gold- plated rubber chickens in gratitude. Bush is raising money equal to some small countries' GDPs, but it still pales next to the short- and long-term profits his policies are guaranteeing to every conceivable transnational corporation and conglomerate that does business in the U.S. For a company that might net billions of dollars in additional monies from single acts of corporate welfare -- like either of Bush's massive tax cut plans, for example -- plowing a million or so back into a second term is an outstanding business investment. Think of it as public financing for incumbents: the elected official gives a company a billion or so, the company then gives the official a bit of our money back so that he can serve another term.
Multiply that by the Fortune 200, and you have your $200 million.
It's not quite that simple, of course. But look at the sums being raised, and ask the obvious question: who else, in this economy, has any money? The net result of Bush's public looting, abetted by a Republican Congress, is a society where the extremely wealthy think of government as an enormous feeding trough, and the rest of us just try not to think of it at all.
Ex-CIA director says administration stretched facts on Iraq by John Diamond
Turner suggested Tenet should tread cautiously because CIA directors "can be made the fall guy" by administrations when policy judgments based on intelligence go wrong.
Turner said, "There is no question in my mind (policymakers) distorted the situation, either because they had bad intelligence or because they misinterpreted it."
Public criticism of an administration's handling of intelligence is rare from former CIA directors, who typically give the benefit of the doubt to those with full access to classified information.
President Bush has given no indication he is having second thoughts about his decision to invade Iraq.
"We made it clear to the dictator of Iraq that he must disarm," Bush said in a speech Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. "He chose not to do so, so we disarmed him. And I know there's a lot of revisionist history now going on, but one thing is certain. He is no longer a threat to the free world."
How long do you think he has known the word revisionist? I don't remember hearing him use it before.
Delusional on the Deficit by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings
Nobody is paying any attention to the budget deficit. Last month the House Budget Committee's Democrats forecast a deficit of nearly $500 billion, and The Post reported the story on Page A4. Last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that the deficit would balloon to a record $400 billion-plus, and The Post again buried the story on A4. Spending trust funds, such as Social Security, is what keeps the estimate at $400 billion. The actual deficit will be approximately $600 billion.
That's a win for Mitch Daniels. The goal of the departed Office of Management and Budget director was to keep any news that could hurt President Bush's reelection prospects off the front page, and The Post willingly aided and abetted him. In fact, when Daniels left two weeks ago to run for governor of Indiana, he told The Post that the government is "fiscally in fine shape." Good grief! During his 29-month tenure, he turned a so-called $5.6 trillion, 10-year budget surplus into a $4 trillion deficit -- a mere $10 trillion downswing in just two years. If this is good fiscal policy, thank heavens Daniels is gone.
Congress is no better than the press. Republicans, totally in control of this town, just casually raised the limit on the national debt by a record trillion dollars so the president could borrow more money to pay for tax cuts. I say casually because the seriousness of this move was passed over and hardly debated. In The Post, this story wasn't even worthy of A4. It was relegated to A8.
No wonder We The People don't know what's important.
Open Iraq Hearings Crucial
Committee member Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wants to publicly question CIA Director George J. Tenet. Levin contends Tenet misled Americans and believes the U.S. did not fully disclose to United Nations weapons inspectors full intelligence on possible Iraqi weapon sites; to have done so might have prolonged the push for inspections and disrupted the administration's rush to war, Levin says. These and other such serious accusations — including whether the administration pressured analysts to come up with worst-case analyses of Iraqi weaponry — can best be answered in public hearings.
Bush officials may hope they can ward off such sessions, stalling in the hope that U.S. forces do find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Especially as the parties head into the 2004 presidential campaign, Democrats will be eager to hammer at this topic and anything else they can find to embarrass Bush. But something more than partisanship is at stake here now: Britain is conducting a real investigation into the intelligence it had about Baghdad, and the U.S. can too. If America must mobilize the world in the days to come about grave concerns such as the nuclear intentions of North Korea or Iran, it will need intelligence that isn't under a cloud of doubt about what may, or may not, have happened with Iraq.
Kerry says Bush misled Americans on war by Ron Fournier
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday that President Bush broke his promise to build an international coalition against Iraq's Saddam Hussein and then waged a war based on questionable intelligence.
''He misled every one of us,'' Kerry said. ''That's one reason why I'm running to be president of the United States.''
Kerry said Bush made his case for war based on at least two pieces of U.S. intelligence that now appear to be wrong that Iraq sought nuclear material from Africa and that Saddam's regime had aerial weapons capable of attacking the United States with biological material.
Still, Kerry said it is too early to conclude whether or not war with Iraq was justified. There needs to be a congressional investigation into U.S. intelligence on Iraq, he said.
''I will not let him off the hook throughout this campaign with respect to America's credibility and credibility to me because if he lied he lied to me personally,'' he said.
Report by the E.P.A. Leaves Out Data on Climate Change by Andrew C. Revkin with Katharine Q. Seelye
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs.
The report, commissioned in 2001 by the agency's administrator, Christie Whitman, was intended to provide the first comprehensive review of what is known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding exist and how to fill them.
Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in speeches that year. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion.
Dean: Investigate Bush Statements on Iraq by Mike Glover
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean on Tuesday called for an independent investigation of President Bush and his justification for the U.S.-led war against Iraq, arguing that the commander in chief misled the country.
"I think the president owes this country an explanation because what the president said was not entirely truthful, and he needs to explain why that was," Dean said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Dean cited a number of statements made by Bush and other senior administration officials about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the dangers that the regime posed to the United States. The candidate said the claims were made even though officials knew they weren't true.
"We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq," Dean said. "It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."
That's how it has appeared to me all along! Let's hope Dean keeps telling it like it is. Visit his website here.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Bush & the End of Reason by Nat Parry
Even as the administration’s case for Iraq possessing a trigger-ready stockpile of chemical and biological warfare collapses, Bush’s aides still don’t hesitate to go on the offensive against their critics. Some top Bush aides even have the audacity to accuse the critics of manipulating the historical record.
"There’s a bit of revisionist history going on here," sniffed Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on NBC’s "Meet the Press" as she lashed out at former CIA analysts and others who questioned Bush’s pre-war WMD claims. "As I said, revisionist history all over the place." [June 8, 2003]
In this Brave New World, up is definitely down and black is clearly white. Those who don’t agree with Bush’s false record are the "revisionists," which implies they – not Bush – are the ones playing games with history.
Besides the WMD distortions, the Bush administration pushed other pre-war hot buttons to get Americans juiced up for war. Bush and his aides repeatedly suggested that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda were in cahoots, a theme used so aggressively that polls showed nearly half of Americans polled believing that Saddam Hussein was behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Only now has it been disclosed that the Bush administration knew – and hid – direct evidence contradicting its claims about Iraqi collaboration with al-Qaeda. Before the war began, the U.S. government had captured two senior al-Qaeda leaders, Abu Zahaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who in separate interrogations denied the existence of an alliance.
G.O.P. Dismisses Questions on Banned Arms Proof in Iraq by David E. Sanger and Carl Hulse
The evidence of what the United States knew about Iraq's weapons programs — like almost all intelligence on the weapons programs of closed societies — was murky and inconsistent.
The White House, seeking to quell suggestions that it cherry-picked the most damaging evidence, has begun citing statements by former President Bill Clinton about Iraq's capabilities in 1998 — and later warnings by Democratic presidential hopefuls like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri.
"The president is 99 percent safe on this one," said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House.
"The literary class that dislikes Bush and dislikes American activism is thrilled, whether in Europe or in the U.S., to have this question to raise," he said. "But in the United States at least, given the mass graves, given the level of torture and brutality by the Baath Party regime, you're asking the American people to side with the apologists for replacing Saddam. Does even the most left-wing Democrat want to defend the proposition that the world would be better off with Saddam in power?"
It's predictable for them to bring Clinton back -- but Gingrich? Oh well, at least he called us "the literary class".
The Spirit of Service Betrayed
In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush spoke with apparent passion about marshaling the new public-spiritedness inspired by 9/11. He vowed to expand opportunities for meaningful national service, including those offered by AmeriCorps, President Bill Clinton's worthy domestic volunteer program. At appearances across the country, President Bush has touted his plan to "increase AmeriCorps by 50 percent" — from about 50,000 members a year to 75,000.
Given the number of young people eager to participate, and the need for community service like tutoring at-risk children or cleaning up parks, even 75,000 volunteers seems like a modest gesture. But, sadly, this is yet another instance where the president's actions have not matched his "compassionate conservative" rhetoric. Instead of expanding AmeriCorps, Mr. Bush is presiding over a major cutback in its spending and scope. That translates into devastating cuts for many localities and community service organizations across the nation that rely heavily on AmeriCorps members, who serve up to a year and receive a $4,725 educational stipend.
Word That U.S. Doubted Iraq Would Use Gas by James Risen
American intelligence analysts reported to the Bush administration last year that Saddam Hussein's government had begun to deploy chemical weapons but that Baghdad would almost certainly not use them unless the government's survival was at stake, United States officials said today.
In a wide-ranging report in November, the Defense Intelligence Agency said it was unlikely that Iraq would use unconventional weapons as long as there were United Nations sanctions against the country. President Saddam Hussein would turn to the weapons only "in extreme circumstances," the D.I.A. report concluded, "because their use would confirm Iraq's evasion of U.N. restrictions," according to the report, portions of which were read to a reporter by an intelligence official.
The November D.I.A. report, which remains classified, indicates that most analysts believed at the time that Iraq had some illegal weapons, but that Mr. Hussein was not likely to use them or share them with terrorists.
Gee, that's not what the president told us.
High Crimes, Misdemeanors by Robert Scheer
This [Niger forgery] is just one example of the administration's manipulation of intelligence in justifying a war that already has killed thousands of people and continues to take the lives of several Americans each week. It is exceedingly odd that the same congressional Republicans who impeached Bill Clinton for dissembling in a sexual scandal find none of this worthy of a full public hearing. To pacify a growing number of critics, they have instead scheduled a secret and limited inquiry.
Perhaps the Republicans think they can stall until fragments of evidence of weapons of mass destruction are found, which would clear Bush's name. However, that won't do the trick. The president persistently claimed that the war was necessitated by the imminent threat of deployed weapons — "a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles," as the president put it, capable of dispersing a huge existing arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, including "missions targeting the United States."
Instead, almost three months after we invaded Iraq, the United States and Britain have yet to find anything of the sort.
"Frankly, we expected to find large warehouses full of chemical or biological weapons, or delivery systems," Army Col. John Connell, who heads the hunt for those AWOL weapons in Iraq, said in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. "At this point, we're getting fairly sure we're not going to find a full-up production facility. We're going to find little pieces."
We now know that the threat of deployed WMD was a blatant falsehood. What has not been established is whether the president was in on the lie. If he was, he should be impeached.
If Politics Look a Bit Crazy Recently... by Arianna Huffington
Since I'm not a psychiatrist, I consulted the work of various experts in the field in order to get a better understanding of the fanatical thinking that is driving the Bush administration's agenda — and scaring the daylights out of a growing number of observers.
Dr. Norman Doidge, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, lists among the telltale symptoms of fanatics: an intolerance of dissent; a doctrine riddled with contradictions; the belief that one's cause has been blessed or even commanded by God; and the use of reinforcement techniques, such as repetition, to spread one's message.
Sound like anyone you know? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, come on down!
According to Doidge, one of the essential features of fanatics is their certainty that not only is their cause good "but that it is the only good, an absolute good." Or, as President Bush famously declared: "There is no in-between, as far as I'm concerned. Either you're with us or you're against us."
And Heaven help you if you're against them.
What are Americans dying for now? by Derrick Z. Jackson
When it came to Somalia, Dole asked: ''What is our purpose? What is the cost? And how long do we stay?'' A decade later, the same question should apply. In the Iraq invasion we lost 139 soldiers, according to the Pentagon, while 3,240 Iraqi civilians had died as of the most recent counting by the Associated Press. The AP said the final toll is sure to be much higher. Now, nearly another 50 soldiers have died in nebulous situations that range from justifiable self-defense to dubious overreactions more reminiscent of the shootings of American students and rioters by National Guardsmen in the 1960s.
On May 1, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that ''one of the most successful military campaigns ever waged'' displayed to the world ''a new American way of war.'' The new American way is already dissolving into a disgusting result that has grown old in the half-century after World War II - a quagmire. It is about time to ask why we accept a quagmire for Iraq when we would not do it for Somalia.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Local Zero by Mary Lynn F. Jones
One of the few bright spots in the recent $350 billion tax cut is that $20 billion was given to states to help them face budget shortfalls. Unfortunately, a similar provision to help the nation's cities and counties didn't end up in the legislation that President George W. Bush signed.
This omission is just another example of Bush's skillful use of political posturing. He gets the credit for giving individuals -- especially wealthy ones likely to donate to his campaign -- tax cuts and doesn't take the blame for decisions by states and local governments to cut services, raise taxes or both.
Oh, he can find them, but they can't tell him anything.
What is happening in America? by Eliot Weinberger
The war in Iraq has been the most extreme manifestation of this new America, and almost a casebook study in totalitarian techniques. First, an Enemy is created by blatant lies that are endlessly repeated until the population believes it: in this case, that Iraq was linked to the attack on the World Trade Centre, and that it possesses vast ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that threaten the world. Then, a War of Liberation, entirely portrayed by the mass media in terms of our Heroic Troops, with little or no imagery of casualties and devastation, and with morale-inspiring, scripted ‘news’ scenes – such as the toppling of the Saddam statue and the heroic ‘rescue’ of Private Lynch – worthy of Soviet cinema. Finally, as has happened with Afghanistan, very little news of the chaos that has followed the Great Victory. Instead, the propaganda machine moves on to a new Enemy – this time, Iran.
It is very difficult to speak of what is happening in America without resorting to the hyperbolic clichés of anti-Americanism that have lost their meaning after so many decades, but that have now finally come true. Perhaps one can only recite the facts, and I have mentioned only some of them here. This is, quite simply, the most frightening American administration in modern times, one that is appalling both to the left and to traditional conservatives. This junta is unabashed in its imperialist ambitions; it is enacting an Orwellian state of Perpetual War; it is dismantling, or attempting to dismantle, some of the most fundamental tenets of American democracy; it is acting without opposition within the government, and is operating so quickly on so many fronts that it has overwhelmed and exhausted any popular opposition. Perhaps it cannot be stopped, but the first step toward slowing it down is the recognition that this is an American government unlike any other in this country's history, and one for whom democracy is an obstacle.
. . . but Still Ruffling Feathers by Richard Cohen
Whatever the case, America's credibility is in question. Even Italy, an ancient land that somehow got Botoxed into the "new Europe" because it supported George W. Bush in Iraq, is deeply skeptical -- although, judging by the people here, not hostile. But Bolton, a hard-liner ensconced in the soft State Department, impatiently brushed aside the questions as if the questioners had no standing at all.
He should have said, "I understand." He should have conceded that the proof [of Iraqi WMD] the Bush administration thought would be discovered almost instantly still has not materialized. He should have talked to his audience of mainly Italian businessmen as if they and he belonged to the same community, shared the same values and, in the war against terrorism, the same challenges.
That sense of going it alone, of being so big and powerful that even the reluctant must follow, of being so right that persuasion and consultation are merely a waste of time and breath, has been the hallmark of the Bush foreign policy since its inception. It has won us a few allies, but not many friends -- and it is shortsighted. Over the horizon, in a place that will surprise and bedevil us, will come another challenge. America needs friends.
Millennial war by James Carroll
Now that Americans have begun facing the fact that, in the absence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the stated purpose of the war was false, a new question presents itself: Why, actually, did the United States go to war? And why, even now, do citizens of the United States apparently feel so little compunction about having waged war without justification?
A prominent US senator and candidate for president can ask tough questions about the Bush administration's falsification of WMD intelligence data even while still affirming his own vote in favor of the war that data supposedly made necessary. What is going on here?
Which lies matter most to the American public? by Joan Vennochi
There are no good lies. But public outrage over some lies can be puzzling given the tolerance for others.
Former first lady and now US Senator Hillary Clinton writes that she did not believe that Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky until he admitted it to her about eight months after the story was first reported. In a recent CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll, 56 percent of the respondents said she was not telling the truth. Since the book was released, conservative talk radio hosts are trying to whip up the public into a frenzy of contempt. It is not hurting sales and may be helping them. After a week on bookshelves, the publishers say Clinton's book has made back its advance.
To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. That is the truth at this moment, which, is of course, subject to change. Even so, 64 percent of those surveyed said they did not believe that the Bush administration ''deliberately misled'' the American public about whether Iraq had such weapons. And other polls indicate that most Americans believe that the war was justified whether the alleged weapons are ever found. In other words, people believe President Bush and his advisers. And, at least according to current polling, the truth in this case is not important to their support for the Bush administration or the war with Iraq.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Dereliction of Duty by Paul Krugman
Last Thursday a House subcommittee met to finalize next year's homeland security appropriation. The ranking Democrat announced that he would introduce an amendment adding roughly $1 billion for areas like port security and border security that, according to just about every expert, have been severely neglected since Sept. 11. He proposed to pay for the additions by slightly scaling back tax cuts for people making more than $1 million per year.
The subcommittee's chairman promptly closed the meeting to the public, citing national security — though no classified material was under discussion. And the bill that emerged from the closed meeting did not contain the extra funding.
It was a perfect symbol of the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Behind the rhetoric — and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny — lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Actual counterterrorism, it seems, doesn't fit the administration's agenda.
Pressure mounts over WMD claims
An inquiry opens on Tuesday into whether the UK Government misled parliament on the threat posed by Iraq, as Washington comes under fresh attack for allegedly manipulating evidence. In London, parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee will focus particular attention on British Government claims that Iraq had the capacity to launch a strike using weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) within 45 minutes.
Since the war was officially declared over, no such weapons have been located - although their alleged existence was a key reason cited by the US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for going to war.
In Washington, Congress is to open inquiries this week into whether the government misread or inflated threats posed by Iraq before going to war.
Such a finding is seen as having the potential to embarrass President Bush.
Like maybe embarrass him right out of office.
Might and Right by Philip Gourevitch
Why, exactly, are we in Iraq? Regardless of whether one supported or opposed the war, one cannot escape the impression that the weapons, some of which may yet be found, were a pretext for a campaign whose larger motives and purposes the Administration has never seen fit to articulate to the public. As the war drags on, a sense of reality is lacking in the Bush camp’s triumphalism; Americans are still killing and dying in almost every news cycle, and Iraqi resentment is mounting against an improvised occupation that has set the nation free mainly in the sense that it is ungoverned. Against this background, the charges now circulating that Bush’s war cabinet depended on false or, worse, falsified intelligence to exaggerate the threat of those weapons in the first place is much more than a technicality.
[The New Yorker, 6/16/03 issue]
The WMD review
The difference between flawed judgment and deceit is critical, if not easy to discern. Assuming the government did convey material error to the public -- that is the first thing we must find out -- was the motivation eagerness to support a political position, or deception?
Either produced the same result, but the remedies vary. The former -- eagerness to please -- requires instilling greater professional resistance to political pressure within the intelligence community. That can be achieved, in part, by developing better intelligence sources and methods.
The latter requires a draconian response. Liars -- whatever their station -- have no place in the government.
To get at the truth, the committee should give no quarter.
Bush not waging war on corruption by Charles Murdock
In their new roles, will Donaldson and Snow worry about CEO compensation? Why does the Bush administration turn to people like Webster, Donaldson and Snow?
It is something called structural bias. These people all think alike. Bush was a failed corporate executive who got wealthy from his connections. Vice President Dick Cheney forged an acquisition for Halliburton that saddled his company with a devastating asbestos liability. But success is not the criteria; connections are. And these people have connections from previous Republican administrations.
But there is more to the story than cronyism and thinking alike. What are the core values of these people?
After Congress recommended increasing the SEC's budget to $776 million, Bush proposed cutting it 30 percent. Does the administration really want corporate reform?
We'll know they're serious when Kenny Boy takes the perp walk.
Former Aide Takes Aim at War on Terror by Laura Blumenfeld
Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know?
"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."
Part of that stemmed from his frustration with the culture of the White House. He was loath to discuss it. His wife, Bonnie, a school administrator, was not: "It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda."
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Truth Is Strongest Weapon In War by Jimmy Breslin
Aside from delusion, the other reason for scaring the country about nuclear bombs is lying. There is the lie being told that is false but which the teller has taken to be true. They give the president a speech that is a lie and he gives it. Then there is the lie that tells the opposite of what the teller knows to be true.
It leaps out that the reason given to Americans for going into Iraq -- to stop them from blowing us up with nuclear weapons -- was an outright lie. It was told to America by President George W. Bush. And people died because of it. What kind of a lie and why it was told is something that only a full investigation by Congress, full and on television, can tell the public and tell us who lied and why.
Unanswered questions -- Find the truth
The United States went to war with Iraq, spent billions of dollars, lost nearly 200 American lives so far and killed thousands of Iraqi citizens, all because the Bush administration had convinced the public that America -- indeed the world -- was under imminent threat of being attacked by weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was linked to al-Qaida.
So far, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, despite exhaustive searches by U.S. military. Neither has any evidence surfaced to substantiate Saddam's ties to al-Qaida. In fact, two captured top al-Qaida leaders said in separate interviews more than a year ago that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida had shunned any connection.
Anything less than an exhaustive investigation keeps the door wide open for innuendo and insinuations. And it raises the suspicion that a cover-up is under way.
Could we please hold this president accountable for something?
Bush Presents U.S. With No-Fault Presidency by Marie Cocco
Of course, there are no apologies. For in this government, no revelation, no matter how well-documented, is ever a reason to take stock. No policy failure results in a change of course, a revision to account for the fact that sometimes even a brilliant plan might go awry. It is a rare congressional hearing where officials are called on the carpet or asked how they intend to improve. President George W. Bush has invented the no-fault presidency.
Having failed, so far, to find any biological or chemical weapon in any corner of Iraq, now occupied by hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, the president declared the other day that black is, in fact, white.
"We found them," Bush said during a stop in Europe. He was, apparently, referring to mobile labs that analysts have deduced could be used for producing biological weapons. No pathogens were found.
Two things this president will not do are (1) admit to a mistake; and (2) accept responsibility.
Farewell, Ari. Now for the truth by Stebbins Jefferson
Last month, press secretary Ari Fleischer announced he will leave the White House in July. Having served as President George W. Bush's official spokesman since December 2000, Mr. Fleischer explained his "own sense of timing and respect for the president" prompted him to resign before the administration gears up for the 2004 reelection campaign. (Reportedly, the man said this with a straight face, just as if every word he has ever uttered about anything has not been in the interest of reelecting Mr. Bush.)
Hinting at job burnout, the recently married 42-year-old spokesman said of his future employment plans, "I want to do something more relaxing -- like dismantle live nuclear weapons." Thus, the seemingly unflappable, deliberately cautious and exquisitely evasive communicator moves on -- probably to some cushy position in the private sector. He can rest assured, however, that without any significant lapses, he served the declared interests of his president well. How well he served the press is another matter, one that will be debated for decades to come.
But not open to debate is the reality that on his watch, the White House press secretary abdicated all responsibility to serve the people through the press. Instead, he refined the art of using voluble statements to disclose as little information as possible as long as possible. And on those rare occasions when journalists have had the effrontery to probe for specific clarification of issues, Mr. Fleischer's response was to spout more doublespeak or to ignore the offensive questioner altogether.
Prevaricating President by Michael Tomasky
Under most normal circumstances, too, the Iraq War would have been a scandal. There are many reasons historically why war for a democracy should be a last resort. One of those reasons is precisely that the democratic commander in chief must answer to the people who elected him, and those people include the soldiers he is sending off to die (and their spouses and their mothers). Read any study of Franklin Roosevelt or Lyndon Johnson or any American president contemplating war and you will see that, after the strategic and political calculations were run through at staff meetings, in the end it was the president, alone with his conscience, deciding whether he would be able to look a grieving mother in the eye and tell her that her son's death was essentially unavoidable.
That's a very human consideration for war, and it's a very democratic one as well. It reminds the leader that his power is derived not from divine right or genealogical caprice or imperial ukase but from the governed.
But when you bullied your way into office in obvious contravention of the will of the people, what difference does all that hoo-ha make? Humility is a quality that candidate Bush talked up, but after Florida, and especially after September 11 created an opening for a new posture of aggression, humility was just another word for guilt. And so, instead of carefully placed stories about a president wrestling with his conscience, we got carefully leaked stories telling us that his conscience was clear and he was sleeping like a baby.
Have they no shame?
The Sky God by Knute Berger
Even at home, there are signs of possible casualties: British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in trouble over the weapons-of-mass-destruction debacle. Who played the bigger shell game, Saddam with his weapons or Bush and Blair with the truth? Even Bush is trying to change the subject to Medicare. For the first time, commentators not so far out on the political fringe are demanding explanations. The "I" word is being whispered in some corners: If it is proven that Bush & company lied about Saddam's WMDs, then that might prove to be impeachable (as if stealing an election and shredding the Constitution are not). As former White House lawyer John Dean reminds us in a recent analysis, his former boss, Richard Nixon, was about to be impeached over misuse of the FBI and CIA. Bush's WMD fiasco could be bigger than Watergate, he opines. Foreign-policy scandals tend to be more scandalous, at least if people notice. A poll this week from the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that 34 percent of Americans believe WMDs have been already found.
A sky god cannot be held to mortal standards: truth, details, laws. Bush wraps his terror-war rhetoric in biblical code. Blair mimics him by posing against stained glass windows for the same effect: These men have seen "truths" the rest of us have not seen.
Empty Promises For AmeriCorps by David Broder
At his road stops, Bush likes to introduce AmeriCorps workers, while telling audiences that "we'll increase AmeriCorps by 50 percent." That goal was also set forth in the president's budget for fiscal 2004, which administration documents said would take AmeriCorps up from 50,000 to 75,000 people.
But despite the rhetoric, skeptics noted that Bush actually reduced his request for AmeriCorps grants from $364 million for fiscal 2003 to $324 million for fiscal 2004. When asked how they expected to expand the program by 50 percent at lower cost, AmeriCorps officials said they have "achieved a lot of efficiencies" and have found that many of the local groups that get AmeriCorps workers are willing to subsidize their living expenses, reducing the cost to the government.
The Costs of Iraq
It nevertheless becomes clearer every day that the job of pacifying Iraq is going to be harder and take considerably longer than many in the administration hoped -- or than they have led the country to expect. U.S. troops will have to fight enemies and provide security for many months, if not years, to come. Thanks to the Bush administration's insistence on monopolizing the postwar administration, not much help may be offered: Barely 12,000 allied troops are now in Iraq, compared with nearly 150,000 Americans, and fewer than 8,000 additional coalition troops have been lined up. Administration officials keep saying they are willing to make whatever commitment is necessary for as long as it takes. But they have done little to prepare the country for the real costs -- in resources and in lives -- that likely lie ahead. The last time he spoke about Iraq, in Qatar on June 5, President Bush again described the war in the past tense; the only indication he gave of being aware that any fighting was still going on was his passing reference to "pockets of criminality." That was the day Pfc. Oberleitner died.
[Washington Post editorial, 6/15/03]