Brattleboro Reformer, VT
The Downing Street Memos have faded from the headlines, overshadowed by the furor over Karl Rove and whether he leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to reporters.
We know it's tough for the Washington press corps to focus on more than one story at a time, but we'll make it easy for them.
Both the Downing Street Memos -- the secret documents from Britain's intelligence agency on the Bush administration's preparations for invading Iraq -- and the ongoing scandal involving President Bush's most trusted advisor are both tied together. They show the lengths that the Bush administration will go to in convincing Americans to accept a unnecessary war. They also show how the White House bullied and discredited anyone who got in its way.
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in his book, "The Price of Loyalty," wrote that the Bush administration planned for an Iraq invasion from the day it took office. O'Neill was threatened with jail time for supposedly revealing classified information, something he did not do. Nonetheless, he clammed up after that.
Former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke echoed O'Neill observations in his book, "Against All Enemies," charged the Bush administration with ignoring al Qaida to go after Iraq. Clark ended up the target of a concentrated White House smear attack.
Scott Ritter, the former lead inspector for the United Nations investigation team in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, met the same fate as Clarke, because he told anyone who would listen that Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq had been effectively disarmed by his UN team.
Retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni opposed the plans to invade Iraq. The former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command also criticized the lack of postwar planning and the abuses committed by U.S. forces. The Bush administration allegedly tried to prevent him from getting any consulting jobs in Washington.
Gen. Eric Skinseki, the Army's chief of staff, told Congress before the Iraq invasion that "several hundred thousand troops" would be needed to occupy the country after the war. He was forced into early retirement.
And so on down the line. Every person who dared to point out the gaping holes in President Bush's arguments for invading Iraq has been smeared or bullied into silence.
That's why former Iraq Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband and another Bush critic, also had to be attacked for not supporting the rationales for invading Iraq. That's why Rove apparently shopped around the information about Plame to several reporters in retaliation for Wilson's opposition.
This is a policy that comes straight from the top. The Bush administration wanted war and would do whatever it took to get it.
Whether it is bending facts to fit their policies -- as outlined in the Downing Street Memos -- or punishing critics and whistleblowers, what is unfolding is a clear pattern of lies and corruption that matches the level of Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair.
If Democrats were in control of Congress, there would have been an investigation of the Bush White House by now. Instead, we see Republicans explaining away the Bush White House's misdeeds.
We think it's time for Republicans to put aside politics and uphold the Constitution that they have all sworn to protect and defend.
It's time to start talking seriously about impeachment.
Bill Clinton got impeached for lying about an extramarital affair. Lying to the nation about a war of choice, an unnecessary and immoral war in Iraq that has done incalculable damage to this nation's standing in the world, is a far greater offense.
President Bush and his administration has much to answer for. Let the proceedings begin.
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