February 25, 2006
|Pack Of Lies||9/11, "War On Terror" Iraq|
Jay Bookman, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via CommonDreams), reminds us how many of the Bush administration's lies about Iraq have since been exposed by people who were there at the time:
For example, take the claim that the administration decided to invade Iraq because "Sept. 11 changed everything."
Paul O'Neill, President Bush's first treasury secretary, long ago revealed that administration officials were intent on invading Iraq from the moment the president took office.
"It was all about finding a way to do it," O'Neill says of Cabinet meetings he attended before Sept. 11. "That was the tone of it. The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.'"
In his new book "State of War," James Risen confirms that account by reporting that in April 2002 — long before most Americans had even heard war was a possibility — CIA officers in Europe were summoned by agency leaders and told an invasion was coming.
"They said this was on Bush's agenda when he got elected, and that 9/11 only delayed it," one CIA officer recalled to Risen. "They implied that 9/11 was a distraction from Iraq."
Then there were those weapons of mass destruction. The administration now implies it was misled into war by bad U.S. intelligence, but that's not true. While the CIA was indeed wrong about Iraq possessing at least some WMD, those faulty reports played no role whatsoever in the administration's decision to invade. WMD was the administration's excuse for a war it had already decided upon for other reasons.
The head of the CIA's Middle East bureau from 2000 to 2005 makes that clear in a new article in Foreign Affairs magazine. Paul Pillar writes that under the Bush administration, "official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions." Instead, "intelligence was misused to justify decisions already made," citing Iraqi WMD as a prime example.
In his article, Pillar also confirms that Bush told a monumental whopper in claiming that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had informally allied against us.
Pillar is not the first to expose that fact. The Sept. 11 commission concluded back in June 2004 that there had been no "collaborative relationship" between Iraq and bin Laden. But Pillar, who saw every scrap of intelligence about the Middle East, takes it further, saying the claim by Bush and others "did not reflect any judgment by intelligence officials that there was or was likely to be anything like the 'alliance' the administration said existed."
In other words, they made it up.
It is yet another example of how we were deceived into war by Bush, a man in whom Americans of both parties had put enormous amounts of faith in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
Of course, accusing Bush of deliberately lying to the country still sets off a contentious counterattack. Historians, though, will have no qualms whatsoever about reaching that same conclusion; the evidence is that overwhelming.
And then there was the incompetence. The claims that Iraq would pay for its own reconstruction, that we would be welcomed as liberators, that there were no serious ethnic splits in Iraq, that we had enough troops...the list is lengthy. How could the administration have been so wrong?
Well, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
If you're contemplating invading and occupying another country — and risking much of your own country's future on the outcome — your first step would be to request an assessment of the situation from your experts, right?
"As the national intelligence officer for the Middle East, I was in charge of coordinating all of the intelligence community's assessments regarding Iraq," Pillar writes. "The first request I received from any administration policy-maker for any such assessment was not until a year into the war." [Emphasis added]
When the US finally admits defeat and withdraws from Iraq, as it inevitably must, there will be a revisionist tendency, as we saw with Vietnam, to characterize it all as a well-intentioned but tragic "mistake." US motives were (as always) pure, but some people just refuse to be helped.
We need to do everything we can to resist that kind of interpretation. US foreign policy is like that of any great power: amoral, self-serving, and ruthless. As long as Americans live in a fantasy world where the US is always on the side of good, where US motives cannot be questioned, there will be more Vietnams, more Iraqs.