By Jim Mullins
The Bush administration and much of the major media either ignored or gave little publicity to the revelations in the "Downing Street Memo" when it was leaked and published in London's Sunday Times close to two months ago. Now the leak has become a flood of memos written by British cabinet ministers that affirm and substantiate its damning statement that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
British officials in intelligence, legal and military leadership had expressed great misgivings about the invasion's legality, American claims of quick military success and the lack of US plans to govern Iraq and secure the peace. Its legality was particularly troubling to the legal and military oficials who saw themselves as liable for Nuremberg style war crime trials in the International Criminal Court to which they were bound by treaty. A treaty signed by President Clinton but not given senatorial ratification at President Bush's insistence.
President Bush's plans for war in Iraq began long before 9/11. His biographer, Mickey Herskowitz, quotes candidate George W. Bush: "One of the keys to being a great leader is to be seen as a Commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it." And: "If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it."
He campaigned however, on having a humble foreign policy and avoiding war. This was nonsense for George Bush pushed for an invasion of Iraq from day one of his presidency. It was all about him and his place in history. 9/11 presented the opportunity to achieve his overweening ambition to be a warrior crusading president.
President Bush's deceptive statements about Iraq's deadly threats to America's security culminated in Secretary of State Colin Powell's Power Point presentation at the UN. Its members silently rejected it and broke into cheering for the French foreign minister who cautioned that time should be given for the UN inspectors to finish their work.
But the tide is slowly turning. Cong. Walter B. Jones [R-NC] who was so infuriated by the French spokesperson that he had the french fries in the Congressional dining room renamed "freedom fries" has now said that he will sponson legislation calling on the Bush administration to define how it intends to get our troops out of Iraq. House Judiciary Committee Minority leader John B. Conyers Jr. now has 120 co-sponsors of a Presidential letter requesting answers to the Downing Street Memo. His request for 80,000 citizen petition signers has now reached 560,000.
President Bush feels that his reelection was a referendum on his actions taking us to war thus avoiding facing up to the lies and deceptions that got us there. His later ploy-a drive for Middle East democracy-is exposed by a policy that applauds elections in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, condemns those in Iran, overlooks the dynastic succession in Azerbaijan and stymies investigations of human rights and the horrific massacre in Uzbekistan.
Egypt has had a dictatorial regime with referendums-not contested elections-on President Mubarak rule since 1980. He is now allowing opponents but only nonentities from his own party with opposition parties either banned or leaders jailed on trumped up charges. Saudi Arabia which has had autocratic royal family rule since its inception in 1920 will now allow election of village councils where on the other hand Iran has regular local, parliamentary and presidential elections with parties representing left, right and moderate tendencies as we witnessed last Sunday.
Azerbaijan has had a former-communist dictator, Heydar Aliyev, since the Cold War ended. The phony election that installed his son Alham Aliyev as his dynastic successor elicited no comment from the Bush administration. An investigation of the recent massacre in Uzbekistan where up to 2,000 demonstrators were slaughtered and Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov's violations of human rights has been stalled both in NATO and the OSCE by the Bush administration. The British Ambassador has stated that torture, including boiling of body parts is endemic.
Scott Ritter, former American Weapons Inspector in the Soviet Union and the UN in Iraq who disputed Bush claims of Iraqi WMD based on-the-ground experience has now reported that the United States is expanding US military bases and Special Forces in Aberbaijan as a prelude to an invasion of Iran. The same secret actions that began soon after 9/11 in terms of Iraq while the Afghan war was raging and Osama bin Laden was still on the loose.
We should not accept on faith Bush administration propaganda that may lead us to a far deeper quagmire in Iran and demand answers and truth instead of bumper-sticker slogans such as "democracy" and "freedom."