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Give 'Em Hell, Harry - And Get Answers to These Specific Questions

By David Sirota
Huffington Post

Give-'Em-Hell Harry Reid today did a great service to America today by standing up, shutting down the Senate and demanding answers about how and why the Bush administration lied to America about the Iraq "threat" in the lead up to the war. This gutsy move by the Senate Minority Leader should be applauded, but the question now is, what's next? What do we want to really know from the Bush administration? What specific questions does America deserve answers to?

The questions - still unanswered nearly 4 years after the war started - can be found in an article my former Center for American Progress colleague Christy Harvey and I wrote back in 2004 called They Knew. It was an article that took forever to write because it meticulously and chronologically documented how the Bush administration was selling the country a false bill of goods when it came to Iraq - and how they clearly KNEW they were selling America a false bill of goods. There's been many attempts to deflect attention from this core fact by conservatives - they want the public to believe that the Bush administration may have gotten the facts wrong about Iraq, but that the Bush administration didn't actually KNOW it was getting its facts wrong. But as the article shows, the cold, hard evidence shows that THEY KNEW.

That evidence leaves Democrats with some very powerful questions they should be demanding answers to, beyond just why Bush lied about the Niger uranium. That lie was only the most famous in a series of huge lies that scared America into supporting a misguided war. Democrats, here are just some of the huge questions we want answered:

QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING: Why did President Bush say in 2002 that “Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program" when two critical reports – an IAEA one from 1997 and a CIA one from 2001 – made clear that there was absolutely no evidence of that claim? And why in 2003, did both Condoleezza Rice ignore these intelligence documents and insist that Bush's nuclear claim was "absolutely supportable" when in fact it was not?

QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING: Why in his 2003 State of the Union address did President Bush claim that aluminum tubes Iraq purchased were for uranium enrichment, when the White House received intelligence in 2002 that such a claim was untrue? And why did Condoleezza Rice in July of 2003 claim that the intelligence community's "consensus view" was that the tubes were being used for nuclear weapons, when in fact a March 2003 IAEA report specifically said that wasn't true?

QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING: Why in late 2002 did President Bush say definitively that Iraq "could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes" and that Iraq definitely "possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons" when, in fact, Bush's own Defense Intelligence Agency said it had no proof to support these claims?

QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING: Why did President Bush and Vice President Cheney repeatedly claim that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda had an operational relationship, and why did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claim there was "bulletproof" evidence of such a relationship, when intelligence and foreign government sources repeatedly told the White House that wasn't true?

All of the backup information supporting these questions is in our article, and clearly there are far more questions than just these. Harry Reid has taken the first important step in finally getting to the bottom of things. Now it's time to demand answers.

Harry Reid shuts down the Senate demanding answers about Iraq:

In These Times article - They Knew:


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Hats off and great credit to Harry Reid for sticking his neck out like he did for the American people, who deserve to have the false basis for the Iraq war exposed. Not just for kicks, but to let our deceptive leaders know we won't stand for them lying to us and they will be held accountable.

From reports, Reid's action was to spur Pat Robert's committee to finish the other half of the report on the flat-wrong intelligence that was used as basis for going to war--not only that it was noted by analysts to be wrong, but that our leaders ignored that advice and manipulated it in a manner to deceptively sell the war. Owning up to that is likely what the hold-up has been. It will be like pulling teeth to get the truth out. But Harry Reid has RESTORED OUR CONFIDENCE that there are more red-blooded democrats alive and kicking, who are well representing us, than we had thought.

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