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Peering Under the Plame Outing
Remarks at "Plan B for Baghdad" Event, Denver, Col., October 15, 2005
By David Swanson
I wrote these remarks down on Thursday, when a Washington Post columnist was pleading with Patrick Fitzgerald to please just go away, and a New York Times news article was claiming that if Lewis Libby leaked anything, he did so with the best of intentions. Meanwhile virtually no voices in the corporate media were asking why Joe Wilson had to be attacked, who had made the false claims that Wilson had debunked, and who had forged the documents that the Bush Administration had used to claim that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons – or, in the case of Dick Cheney, that Iraq already had nuclear weapons.
What I think we need, more than anything else, is a broader view of the situation we're in. Let's look at this war from a thousand miles up.
There are those who believe in such a thing as a just war. Many of them supported this war early on and have since changed their minds. And you can see why. Because, if there is such a thing a just war, this is the opposite. A just war, if we can fantasize about it, would be fought by the people who decided to wage it, would be fought purely in self-defense, would be decided upon in a democratic process with public information, would be based on generally honest information, would be fought with respect for the subsection of human rights that international law holds to apply even in war, and would not be exploited to limit rights domestically, destroy useful domestic programs, or transfer public wealth to the wealthy.
I want to focus on one of the general areas that makes this a model unjust war, namely the lies that were used to launch it. I'm not an intelligence expert. I'm just an activist who's been part of a campaign that has made some noise in Congress and in the media about these lies. Still, I have faith in my own ability and that of the general public to grasp the important points here. For one thing, the important points here could hardly be more absurd had we just lived through a Marx Brothers movie.
Unmanned aircraft coming to kill us within 45 minutes! A mushroom cloud! Diseases, poisons, gasses! As a movie this would not make a millionth of the money the real thing cost.
Bush took office with the goal of removing Saddam Hussein written into the Republican Party platform. He immediately began demanding intelligence claims that could be used to justify that, and he intensified that demand immediately after September 11th. Cheney made at least 10 trips to the CIA to apply pressure, and the Pentagon set up its own shadow CIA in case the CIA couldn't be sufficiently pressured. Multiple CIA staff have independently told multiple reporters that they were instructed that "Bush wants to go to war, it's your job to give him a reason to do so."
And what reasons did the White House end up with? (And let's note that these were all reasons that most of the world rejected.)
First, a lot of the claims about Iraq having so-called weapons of mass destruction were based on statements made by Hussein Kamel, son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, who said at the same time that Iraq had destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction in 1991. But the Bush gang accidentally left out that little fact with great consistency.
After the U.S. Department of Energy informed the White House that aluminum tubes being sent to Iraq were not suitable for use in developing nuclear weapons, the Bushies went out and claimed the opposite with absolute certainty.
A likely alcoholic informant to German spies, whom the Germans labeled "out of control" and "a waste of time" and named Curveball was used to justify Bush's claims about biological weapons, even though U.S. intelligence knew that the so-called weapons labs were actually making hydrogen for weather balloons.
Forged documents that wouldn't have gotten past my high school teachers were used to claim that Iraq was buying uranium, even though the CIA and the State Department thought that was nonsense and succeeded in having the claim removed from some Bush speeches before it made its way into his State of the Union address in 2003.
Meanwhile, doing their best Keystone Kops imitation, if we give them credit for honesty, U.S. intelligence gatherers were spotting increased activity at suspicious sites in Iraq, not realizing that what they were observing was not an increase in activity, but an increased frequency at which they themselves were taking satellite snapshots.
The intelligence community produced a National Intelligence Estimate for Congress, but it was 93-pages long. Only 17 Congress Members claim they read it. Most of Congress read, if anything, a 25-page unclassified version, which oddly made claims with a lot more confidence than did the longer paper.
Colin Powell put on a performance at the United Nations that went against countless warnings and advice from his own State Department and others, and as far as anyone knows included claims and audio recordings and photographic analyses that were quite simply made up.
The U.S. and the British said they needed UN approval for the war, didn't get it, and launched the war anyway.
The war makers said they wanted to find weapons in Iraq. Inspectors in Iraq concluded the weapons weren't there, and the U.S. launched the war anyway.
The Bush Administration's claims about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda were as laughable as all the claims about weapons. But they were made over and over again, and not debunked effectively by the media. As we meet today, a third of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein was working with Osama Bin Laden.
A fair amount of the evidence of all of this dishonesty was made public through the mass media, but usually on page 18 in an article with an unrelated headline or in the cartoon section in the Boondocks cartoon, and in a newspaper with the lies trumpeted as truth on the front page.
In a survey of voters last November, the University of Maryland's PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, found that most of those who got their news from the commercial TV networks held at least 1 of 3 fundamental "misperceptions" about the war in Iraq (and some held 2 or 3 of them):