Friday, December 09, 2005

Revisionists, Inc.

“It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how the war began.”
(George W. Bush, Dec. 2, 2005)

Daily, George W. Bush or his administration mouthpieces dissemble about the causes for war, the evidence supporting (or rather failing to support it), the operation of it, and the unintended consequences. If the American people no longer buy the mother load of misleads, then Bush hires more consultants and pays more “journalists” to propagandize. If Americans have fuzzy memories, Bush and his supporters repeat the same lies. And if that doesn’t work, they declare war on the loyal opposition. It’s Billl Clinton’s fault, or the Democrats in Congress, they say. Yet most, who voted yes on the war authorization expected it would be a last resort and only if evidence from weapons inspections supported it. The Bush administration furthers the deception that the Congressional Democrats saw the same data Bush saw. Bush enablers attack dissenter’s patriotism and hope that will silence them. They introduce ends-justify-the-means distractions. But whatever the obfuscation, administration revisionism and deceit cannot be forgotten. Here’s a recap of the relevent deceits, lest we forget.

Following the 9-11 hijacking, we learned that the perpetrators were mostly from Saudi Arabia. None was from Iraq, but Bush wanted to conjure up evidence against Iraq anyway (Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, 2004). Eventually, the US launched the war in Afghanistan, ostensibly to route out the terrorist camps and terrorists responsible for 9-11. Bush also coincidently made that country safe for a major pipeline, but didn’t find OBL. But what happens next was utter distraction from the crucial mission of finding the terrorists responsible for 9-11. And finding them and dealing with them was something all Americans can agree on. But, then Bush ratcheted up the war-mongering by claiming that Iraq threatened America.

In Aug. 2002, Dick Cheney ramped up the case for war against Iraq when he claimed to a VFW Convention, "But now we know Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons" (The Guardian, 8/27/02). At this point the intelligence services had already disputed this claim, back-paged in various American media.

It’s worth noting as well that though Saddam had sought to acquire the now-illicit weapons, with US and European help in the late eighties, his weapons program was destroyed during the Desert Storm. Some politicians of both parties worried he might have reconstructed his weapons program, or never used them all up. However, the solution to this problem was weapons inspection. And once the UN was back in Iraq in late 2002, the US should have waited for the final outcome of the inspections. Instead, Bush rushed headlong into “his” war. The Project for a New American Century document of Sept, 2000, and the 2002 Downing Street Memos illustrate additional administration interest in such efforts. Bush ignored warnings from all who thought he was being precipitous, even some of his father’s advisors. Except for those who, even now, think weapons will still be found, we now know that there were no such weapons.

Also in 2002, George Tenet, convenient scapegoat and eventually ironic Medal of Freedom winner for serving as the fall guy for administration intelligence blunders, informed Bush that Iraq posed no imminent threat. So, it’s puzzling why he later made the “slam-dunk” statement.

In Oct. 2002, Tenet personally intervened to stop Bush from making the uranium claim at that time (AP, 7/13/03). But , Bush made the charge in his State of the Union speech in Jan. 2003. Condoleezza Rice made the uranium claim on Jan. 23, 2003, months after the CIA had told the administration otherwise. Meanwhile, the IAEA also found no evidence to substantiate the nuclear claim. To quote its report, "To date, we have found no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program since its elimination in the 1990s" (AP, 1/27/03). Regarding Bush's inclusion of the claim in the State of the Union address, Colin Powell said, "There was a sense that the statement wasn't totally outrageous" (CBS News, 7/12/03). Such recklessness from the Secretary of State says it all.

In 2002, and under the auspices of the CIA, Joseph Wilson visited Niger to investigate the claim that Saddam was seeking yellow-cake uranium from Niger. Before the war, in Mar. 2002, Wilson reported that no such transaction ever took place. In his book, Chain of Command, Seymour Hersh heard from CIA sources that the forgeries were so obvious they were “cooler talk.” Furthermore, CIA investigators have reported to various media that Dick Cheney made frequent trips to the CIA to shape the "intelligence." So blatant was the pretension that virtually anyone could have proven the documents to be forgeries.

No real evidence exists (or ever did exist) that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. By early Mar. 2003, about two weeks before the war, the IAEA revealed Read it here.) conclusively that the Niger documents were forgeries and that there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. But on Mar. 17th, Bush insisted that "Iraq continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised." Also in March, Cheney persisted that Iraq had nuclear weapons, "We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons" (Mar. 16, Meet the Press). As recently as Sunday, July 13, 2003, Rice and Rumsfeld, appearing on television talk shows, still pitching the Niger uranium story. The very next day, after all these untrue assertions, Ari Fleischer then feigned that no one in the administration ever said Iraq actually had nuclear weapons.

The uranium document forgeries are the tip of the dissembling iceberg. It has asserted that some aluminum tubes were designed for nuclear centrifuges in Iraq when such was not the case, according to the IAEA. It has misled also about an alleged Iraqi terrorist training camp that wasn't even under Iraqi control, but was under the US and British controlled no-fly zone! So, had any real threats existed, they’d have occurred on our watch. But the Bush administration doesn’t “do” accountability.

It has misled further about a supposed weapons lab in northern Iraq that didn't exist. Approximately 20 newspaper reporters from all over the world checked Powell’s UN assertion on the ground. There was no weapons lab. The administration misled about trailers, which they claimed were for weapons production, even after they had been found by our own scientists to be unrelated to any weapons production. It used Tony Blair's "dossier," despite the fact that it was based on an old, plagiarized, poorly researched graduate student paper! The administration misled too about the well-publicized rockets (so-called "chemical warheads"), which were empty and had no traces of lethal chemicals (Blix, Report to the UN Security Council, 1/27/03). Subsequent analyses by UNSCOM uncovered no evidence of any chemical or biological agents. Instead these were traditional armaments, which were legal.

In the aftermath of the war, every time the administration pounced on something "suspicious," the material was later revealed to be something benign. But such findings were nearly always relegated to the back pages of the nation’s paper(s) “of record.” Almost daily we hear from more loyal Americans in the intelligence community protesting the outright manufacturing of intelligence. Greg Thielmann, former Director of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence, asserted recently that, "the Bush administration did not provide an accurate picture to the American people of the military threat posed by Iraq." The fact is that Iraq never used weapons of mass destruction against American interests, even when attacked by the US. To date, no WMD have been found.

Another fabricated pretext for war was that Iraq has been involved in Al Qaeda activities, including 9/11. But the US intelligence community has repeatedly denied that there was significant, reliable evidence of cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda. Indeed, despite a few contacts over many years, there has been no evidence of any significant cooperation (9-11 Commission Report). The two leaders were enemies, after all. And yet Bush and his spokespersons continue linking Iraq, Al Qaeda and, implicitly, 9/11. As Bush stated in Sept 2002, "The danger is, is that they work together"-an assertion that he exaggerated even further by saying that "in the war on terror, you can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). Also in Sept 2002, when asked if there was such a linkage, Rumsfeld asserted: "... the answer is yes" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). Then Ari Fleischer claimed, "Clearly, al Qaeda is operating inside Iraq" (Washington Post, 9/26/02). On Jan. 31, 2003, Bush stated, that Powell "will talk [to the UN Security Council] about al Qaeda links, links that really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain" ( And in the same press conference, Bush claimed that "After Sept. 11th, the doctrine of containment [of Iraq] just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned," again falsely suggesting that Saddam caused 9/11. Is it any wonder that nearly half of Americans erroneously believed that Iraq caused, or was involved in, 9/11?

The administration's dissembling is pervasive and ongoing. The White House has employed a fictitious case to expand its power, to declare war, and to reign in personal liberties at home. And now we hear the war was also about “freedom” and “democracy.” The ironically named “Pax Americana," hegemony to the nth, however it turns out, does not justify the means. The administration has sacrificed lives, damaged our nation's credibility, increased the risk of world instability and lawlessness, and drained the treasury. When will his apologists and enablers hold him accountable?

At the very least, it’s important to remember what really happened lest the real revisionists get a free pass to act this recklessly again. The Chairman of the 9-11 Commission, a Republican, has given the government an F for its performance on improving Homeland Security. And the Bush enablers and apologists just keep on letting “Bush be Bush, instead of facing the facts. They're "moral relativists" all, and the evidence for this is, as they say, a "slam dunk."