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Bush Rewrites History


By David Corn, http://www.davidcorn.com

In a Veterans Day speech on Friday, delivered to troops and others at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, George W. Bush veered from the usual commemoration of sacrifice to strike at critics who have questioned whether he steered the country into war by using false information. This has become a tough and troubling issue for his presidency. A poll taken before his speech found that 57 percent of the respondents now believe that Bush "deliberately misled" the nation into war. That is astounding and, I assume, without precedent in history. Has there been another wartime period during which a majority of Americans believed the president had purposefully bamboozled them about the reasons for that war? Addressing this charge is tough for Bush because it calls more attention to it, and the on-ground-realities in Iraq only cause more popular unease with the war. But Bush and his aides calculated that it was better to punch back than ignore the criticism, and that's a sign that they're worried that Bush is coming to be defined as a president who conned the nation into an ugly war. So Bush tried. Let's break down his effort:

Our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.

Conservative who claim raising questions about the war does a disservice to the troops and is anti-American might want to keep these words in mind.

When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support.

Actually, Congress did not approve Bush's decision to remove Saddam. In October 2002, the House and Senate approved a resolution that gave Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq if he deemed that appropriate. At the time, Bush and his aides were claiming it was their goal to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction and his WMD programs (which, we know now, did not exist). When the resolution passed---and in the weeks after---the White House insisted that Bush was not bent on "regime change" and that he was willing to work within the UN to force Saddam to accept UN inspectors (which Saddam did) in pursuit of the goal of disarming Iraq. Is Bush now saying that he had already resolved to invade Iraq at this point and all his talk about achieving disarmament through the UN process was bunk? Is he rewriting history--or telling us the real truth? In any event, when Bush did order the invasion of Iraq months later in March 2003, he did not ask Congress to vote on his decision to remove Saddam.

I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq. And that is their right, and I respect it. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I accept the responsibilities, and the criticisms, and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision.

Bush might accept "the responsibilities and criticisms," but has yet to acknowledge the mistakes he and his aides made before and after the invasion about planning for a post-invasion Iraq. He also has not insisted on any accountability for these mistakes. For instance, he gave a spiffy medal to former CIA chief George Tenet, who was responsible for the prewar intelligence failure.

While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

When was the last time Bush talked about how the war began--that is, when did he mention that his primary reason for war (protecting the American public from the supposed WMD threat posed by Saddam Hussein) was discredited by reality? Is ignoring history the same as rewriting it?

Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs.

This is not the full and accurate explanation of the controversy at hand. The issue of whether the Bush administration misled the nation in the run-up to the war has two components. The first is the production of the intelligence related to WMDs and the supposed al Qaeda-Sadam connection. The second is how the Bush crowd represented the intelligence to the public when trying to make the case for war. As for the first, the Senate intelligence committee report did say the committee had found no evidence of political pressure. But Democratic members of the committee and others challenged this finding. Several committee Democrats pointed to a CIA independent review on the prewar intelligence, conducted by a panel led by Richard Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA, which said,

Requests for reporting and analysis of [Iraq's links to al Qaeda] were steady and heavy in the period leading up to the war, creating significant pressure on the Intelligence Community to find evidence that supported a connection.

More to the point, Kerr told Vanity Fair that intelligence analysts did feel pressured by the go-to-war gang. The magazine in May 2004 reported,

"There was a lot of pressure, no question," says Kerr. "The White House, State, Defense were raising questions, heavily on W.M.D. and the issue of terrorism. Why did you select this information rather than that? Why have you downplayed this particular thing?...Sure, I heard that some of the analysts felt pressure. We heard about it from friends. There are always some people in the agency who will say, 'We've been pushed to hard.' Analysts will say, 'You're trying to politicize it.' There were people who felt there was too much pressure. Not that they were being asked to change their judgments, but there were being asked again and again to restate their judgments--do another paper on this, repetitive pressures. Do it again."

Was it a case, then, of officials repeatedly asking for another paper until they got the answer they wanted? "There may have been some of that," Kerr concedes. The requests came from "primarily people outside asking for the same paper again and again. There was a lot of repetitive tasking. Some of the analysts felt this was unnecessary pressure. The repetitive requests, Kerr made clear, came from the C.I.A.'s "senior customers," including "the White House, the vice president, State, Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Despite Bush's assertion, the question remains whether undue pressure was applied by the White House. And in his Veterans Day speech, Bush ducked the second issue: how he and his aides depicted the intelligence. This is the source of the dispute over the so-called Phase II investigation of the Senate intelligence committee. The allegation is that Bush and administration officials overstated and hyped the flawed intelligence and claimed it was definitive when they had reason to know it was not.

For example, in his final speech to the nation before launching the war, Bush claimed that US intelligence left "no doubt" about Iraq's supposed WMDs. But there was plenty of doubt on critical issues. Intelligence analysts at the Energy Department and State Department disagreed with those at the CIA about the evidence that purportedly showed Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons program: its importation of aluminum tubes and the allegation that Iraq had been uranium-shopping in Niger. (In 2002, Dick Cheney said the tubes were "irrefutable evidence," and Condoleezza Rice said they were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs." But a year earlier, as The New York Times reported in 2004, "Rice's staff had been told that the government's foremost nuclear expert seriously doubted that the tubes were for nuclear weapons.") The CIA believed Iraq had chemical weapons. But the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that there was no evidence such stockpiles existed. Some intelligence analysts concluded that Iraq was developing unmanned aerial vehicles that could deliver chemical or biological weapons. The experts on UAVs at the Air Force thought this was not so. Was Bush speaking accurately when he told the public--and the world--there was "no doubt"?

Also, did Bush make specific claims unsupported by the intelligence? The National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, produced in October 2002, maintained that Iraq had an active biological research and development program. Bush publicly said Iraq had "stockpiles" of biological weapons. There is a difference between an R&D program (which Iraq did not have) and warehouses loaded with ready-to-go weapons (which Bush implied existed). How did an R&D program become stockpiles? This is as intriguing a question as how those sixteen words about Iraq's alleged pursuit of uranium in Africa became embedded in the State of the Union speech Bush delivered in early 2003.

On the key issue of Saddam Hussein's alleged connection to al Qaeda, Bush also made statements that went beyond the intelligence. This link was crucial to the case for war, for Bush and other hawks were arguing that Saddam Hussein could slip his WMDs to his pal Osama bin Laden. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein was "dealing with" al Qaeda. But his intelligence agencies had not reached that conclusion. (And the 9/11 Commission later said there was no evidence of collusion between al Qaeda and Saddam.) So how did Bush come to make such a statement? Recently, Senator Carl Levin, a Democrat, released formerly classified material showing that before the war when Bush, Cheney, Colin Powell and other administration officials cited evidence that Iraq had been training al Qaeda operatives in the use of bombs and other weapons, Bush and these officials were relying on the statements of a captured al Qaeda member whose claims had been discounted by the Defense Intelligence Agency. Once more, how had Bush and his senior aides come to disseminate specific and provocative information deemed unreliable by the intelligence community?

Bush's Veterans Days comments addressed none of this.

They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.

The people with the most hands-on information regarding WMDs in Iraq did not. The International Atomic Energy Agency, led by recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, concluded weeks before the war (after their inspectors had returned to Iraq) that Saddam Hussein had not revived the nuclear weapons program that the IAEA had dismantled in the mid-1990s. And Hans Blix, head of the UN inspectors in Iraq, repeatedly said that his team was not finding evidence of chemical or biological weapons stockpiles.

...And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate--who had access to the same intelligence--voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

As noted above, the Democrats voted to give Bush the authority to use force when he thought he should--but only after Bush had promised to go to the United Nations in an effort to disarm Saddam Hussein, who, it turned out, was telling the truth when he denied his government possessed WMDs. Even the John Kerry quote that Bush cites contains the to-disarm condition. And several Democratic members of Congress have claimed that they did not see all the intelligence that was available to the White House.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges.

It's hard to argue with that.

These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough.

Who said that "it's perfectly legitimate to criticize" the "decision [to go to war in Iraq] or the conduct of the war"? That was Bush, moments earlier, in the same speech. So which is it? Is it okay to criticize the conduct of the war or not?

By the way, while accusing his critics of falsifying history, Bush never conceded that he launched the war on a false premise--that Saddam Hussein was up to his neck in WMDs--and, thus, as he paid tribute to veterans of this war and others, he did not accept responsibility for sending American troops into battle for a cause that did not exist.

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"The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important, for politicians to throw out false charges", Bush says.

Really, Mr. "President"? Like the false charge in your 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger to build nuclear weapons? You know, the one that your own CIA was telling you could not be substantiated, that you eventually retracted, admitted to the United Nations that you could not prove, and was based on documents that are proven forgeries?

Give us all a break. You're a goddamn lying war criminal and the whole world knows it. Even you.

The only reason you still have an amazingly high approval rating of 36% is that they're all Republicans who are more concerned with supporting their party than doing what's right for their country. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

And you should be in jail.

If there is any justice left in this country after you and your neocon cronies get through raping it, you will be.

John Perry
http://www.johnperryonline.com

Bush's "16 Words" on Iraq & Uranium: He May Have Been Wrong But He Wasn't Lying
http://www.factcheck.org/article222.html

The point is the story is not true. False. Did not happen. And Joe Wilson continues to be vilified by these people because he proved it.

There is also a pretty big investigation going on right now concerning the revelation of a covert CIA agent's identity (you know, the one that happens to be married to Joe Wilson) by the Bush administration. Perhaps you're familiar with it. It's the one that has so far resulted in the indictment of the now former chief of staff to the Vice President of the United States, with no doubt more action to come.

The Bushies did this not in an effort to refute Wilson's report, but in a weak attempt to undermine his credibility by showing nepotism on the part of his CIA wife, who they tried to claim was responsible for sending him on the mission to Niger.

They were not the least bit concerned with the very serious national security implications resulting from their outing of Plame, or that it is a major crime (committed by White House staff!). They just wanted to make Joe Wilson look bad because he destroyed a cornerstone of their Iraq invasion marketing effort.

Rarely do we see such a trifecta of arrogance, ignorance and complete lack of respect for the rule of law (except in Washington, of course).

These are not the actions of an administration that simply got some bad information. They are the actions of a criminal cabal that is intent on laying waste to all that is great about our country, simply to satisfy their own greed and disgusting lust for world domination.

Are you sure you want to defend these people?

John Perry
http://www.johnperryonline.com

Are you sure you want to defend him?

Way to stick to that pathetic party line, Blue Bird.

And way to demonstrate your own pathetic lack of credibility by providing zero evidence of your claim that Joe Wilson has none.

Time to wake up and put your country before your party.

John Perry
http://www.johnperryonline.com

If you weren't an obvious Bush hater, I would be more inclined to think you are not just following YOUR party line.

I don't like Bush much. And, he may be wrong or misguided, but I don't believe he's a liar, especially considering how many Democrats believed Saddam had WMDs, before and after Bush took office.

Who Is Lying About Iraq?
A campaign of distortion aims to discredit the liberation.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007540

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program." - Bill Clinton, 1998

"Iraq is a long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face." - Madeline Albright, Secretary of State, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons-of-mass-destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process." - Nancy Pelosi

"Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them." - Senator Carl Levin

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members." - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, October 2002

"We know that [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." - Al Gore, September 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force--if necessary--to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." - John Kerry, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction." - Ted Kennedy, 2002

Yeah, some people think they are so smart playing Monday morning quarterback. It's too bad you can't play the stock market after the fact.

WMDs are really not the issue with the Iraq War. The war is about Islamic terrorism. Iraq supported terrorism and Iraq engaged in terrorism. Also, Iraq is only part of the war on terrorism. The problem with terrorism goes far beyond Iraq and the Middle East. From ancient times to modern times, the Islamic culture has been an adversary of the Western world. Don't believe me. Look it up yourself.

WMDs are really NOT the issue with the Iraq War>>>

GOOGLE PNAC> "OUT" THE CABAL !!!

Please provide other evidence that Islam is working for world peace.

Three Indonesian girls beheaded
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/schoolgirls-beheaded-in-grisly-indonesi...

Please provide evidence that Bush's cabal works for world peace.

GOOGLE PNAC> "OUT" THE CABAL !!!

Well, you answered my question with a question. Is that the best you can do?

Certainly, no amount of proof will satisfy a Bush hater. I don't like George Bush much. But, I don't waste time and energy hating people. I don't even hate Islamic terrorists, but they are VERY dangerous people and must be defeated, or there will never be any peace. There have been no Islamic terror attacks on American soil since 9/11. To me, that sounds like a good start towards world peace.

If you did, let us know.

GOOGLE PNAC> "OUT" THE CABAL !!!

As Bush hater, even you cannot be so blinded by hatred that you don't understand that Bin Laden's head on a stick will not stop Islamic terrorism.

I'm still waiting... Where is your proof that Islamic terrorist are working for world peace???

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