« The First of Many, from a "Real" Country | Main | The President Asked for This »



By Robert Scheer

Jan. 28, 2004 | Now, can we talk of impeachment? The rueful admission by former chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction or the means to create them at the time of the U.S. invasion confirms the fact that the Bush administration is complicit in arguably the greatest scandal in U.S. history. It's only because the Republicans control both houses of Congress that we hear no calls for a broad-ranging investigation of the type that led to the discovery of Monica Lewinsky's infamous blue dress.

In no previous instance of presidential malfeasance was so much at stake, both in preserving constitutional safeguards and national security. This egregious deception in leading us to war on phony intelligence overshadows those scandals based on greed, such as Teapot Dome during the Harding administration, or those aimed at political opponents, such as Watergate. And the White House continues to dig itself deeper into a hole by denying reality even as its lieutenants one by one find the courage to speak the truth.

A year after using his 2003 State of the Union address to paint Iraq's allegedly vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction as a grave threat to the U.S. and the world, Bush spent this month's State of the Union defending the war because "had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction programs would continue to this day." Bush said officials were still "seeking all the facts" about Iraq's weapons programs but noted that weapons searchers had already identified "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

Vice President Dick Cheney in interviews with USA Today and the Los Angeles Times echoed this fudging -- last year's "weapons" are now called "programs" -- declaring that "the jury's still out" on whether Iraq had WMD and, "I am a long way at this stage from concluding that somehow there was some fundamental flaw in our intelligence."

Yet three days after the State of the Union address, Kay quit and then began telling the world what the administration had denied since taking over the White House: that Hussein's regime was but a weak shadow of the military force it had been at the time of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, that he believed it had no significant chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs or stockpiles in place, and that the United Nations inspections and allied bombing in the '90s had been more effective at eroding the remnants of these programs than critics had thought.

"I'm personally convinced that there were not large stockpiles of newly produced weapons of mass destruction," Kay told the New York Times. "We don't find the people, the documents or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on. I think they gradually reduced stockpiles throughout the 1990s. Somewhere in the mid-1990s the large chemical overhang of existing stockpiles was eliminated ... The Iraqis say they believed that [the U.N. inspection program] was more effective [than U.S. analysts believed], and they didn't want to get caught."

The maddening aspect of all this is that we haven't needed Kay to set the record straight. The administration's systematic abuse of the facts, including the fraudulent link of Hussein to 9/11, has been obvious for two years. That's why 23 former U.S. intelligence experts -- including several who quit in disgust -- have been willing to speak out in Robert Greenwald's shocking documentary "Uncovered." The story they tell is one of an administration that went to war for reasons that smack of empire building, then constructed a false reality to sell it to the American people. Is that not an impeachable offense?

After all, the president misled Congress into approving his preemptive war on the grounds that our very survival as a nation was threatened by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. We were told that if we hesitated, allowing the U.N. inspectors who were in Iraq to keep working, a mushroom cloud over New York, to use Condoleezza Rice's imagery, might well be our dark reward.

Now that Kay -- who, it should be remembered, once defended the war and dismissed the work of the U.N. inspectors -- has had $900 million and at least 1,200 weapons inspectors to discover what many in the CIA and elsewhere had been telling us all along, are there to be no real repercussions for such devastating official deceit?

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Robert Scheer is a syndicated columnist.

We got game. Just because the republican congress and the conservative press isn't screaming, enough of the people will be!


Jonah Goldberg (archive)
January 28, 2004 | Print | Send

By now you've no doubt heard that David Kay, America's top WMD bloodhound, has returned from Iraq to declare that Iraq had no significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction immediately prior to the war.

Kay may still turn out to be mistaken; some WMDs or WMD components may have been smuggled out to Lebanon or Syria as some, including Kay, believe. We may find a container buried in the sand somewhere. But even the White House has switched from saying we "will" find WMDs in Iraq to saying "we might."

In other words, if we go by the best information available right now, it appears that George W. Bush was substantively wrong when he told the country that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and that Saddam was well on his way to developing a nuclear weapon.

This is a hugely important fact with grave consequences for the United States and the world. Unfortunately, very few of our political leaders seem willing or able to deal with it in a straightforward manner.

The Democrats deeply deranged by anti-Bush fever insist on making the most damning - and implausible - charge possible: that Bush willfully lied to the American people about Iraq.

As I've tried to demonstrate in this space before, the idea that the president lied to the American people hinges on - at least - one almost impossible fact: that George W. Bush knew for a certainty that the intelligence agencies of America, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Australia, as well as the United Nations and countless independent experts were all wrong.

Virtually all of the anti-Bush conspiracy theories - most of which contradict each other - depend on the "Bush lied" thesis. But Bush's critics won't let go of this idea, disqualifying themselves from the deadly serious task of dealing with what went wrong.

"Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong," David Kay told Tom Brokaw in an interview. "We need to understand why that was. I think if anyone was abused by the intelligence it was the president of the United States rather than the other way around."

For one reason or another - politics and pride no doubt chief among them - the administration refuses to lend credence to this alternative explanation of events. Just this week, while meeting with the president of Poland, George Bush responded to Kay's comments by saying he still has "great confidence" in the intelligence community.

That's awfully compassionate of him, but if what Kay says is true then Bush most emphatically should not have great confidence in the CIA and other intelligence agencies that seem to get things continually wrong.

Remember in 1991 the agencies were stunned to discover how advanced Iraq's nuclear program was. Just in the last year, they were shocked by how advanced Iran and Libya's nuclear and/or WMD programs are. This isn't the sort of stuff we can afford to be getting wrong these days. People need to be fired.

Now I can sympathize with the White House and Congressional Republicans. The prospect of an investigation into why the intelligence was so wrong would no doubt be a carnival of political grandstanding in an election year. Why invite that kind of chaos when you don't have to? Answer: Because it's the right thing for America. And just because a bunch of self-serving presidential wannabes are for it, doesn't mean you have to be against it.

Meanwhile, the president's most shrill critics should keep in mind that if they don't make a constructive effort to get our intelligence agencies in order the two most likely consequences will be 1) a horrendous WMD attack on the United States and/or 2) another Iraq-style war.

The potential for scenario No. 1 is obvious. If we don't have the ability to reliably spot threats on the horizon, those threats will sail right over the horizon - and into our laps. The possibility for another war should be clear as well. If we're not sure about the threat from an Iran or North Korea, many Americans would rather err on the side thwarting it on their turf than absorbing it on ours.

Indeed, those are just some of the points Bush should be making in his defense. In the post-9/11 world, when the Iraq sanctions regime was falling apart, President Bush had two basic options: put his faith and trust in his own and his allies' intelligence agencies or in the promises of a truly warmongering madman who'd twice before pursued nuclear weapons and used other WMDs on his own people. Maybe Karl Rove doesn't think so, but I think that Bush made the winning, and right, choice.

For the record, I never considered the WMD issue to be that critical to the case for toppling Saddam. President Bush, however, did. Running away from it will only strengthen the resolve of his critics and weaken the country in the process.

Jonah Goldberg is editor of National Review Online, a Townhall.com member group.
You got nothin'

The comments to this entry are closed.

November 2008

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Seen at low tide

  • American White Pelican
    Saw 30 in one flock on a weptember evening while fishing
  • Hummingbird
    Finally, my first hummingbirds. Saw them on a fire bush in Crystal Beach, FL. My rental's neighbor's yard is all xeriscaped, which is ugly to me but just fine with the little hummers. At first, I thought they were the biggest hornets I'd ever seen.
  • Flamingo!
    One of these dudes flew right over my house. I couldn't believe it. And please don't tell me it was a roseated spoonbill because it was a frickin' flamingo, dude! Huge and pink and right there above me. I was like so freaking out, you know?
  • Falcon!
    Don't see these guys too often. Wish we did. Bet the morning doves don't.
  • Black Skimmer
    These beauties are getting scarce, but one flew by yesterday at low tide on the hunt for minnows.
  • Dead sea turtle
    cool, but smelly
  • Reddish Egret
    These have been hanging out around the pool quite a bit lately. Must be a new group of adolesent birds -- the youngsters like to hunt where the water is clear, and it takes them a day to figure out there are not now and never will be fish in the swimming pool no matter how clear the water.
  • Sand Piper
  • Brown Pelican
    I saw a flock of about 200 of these at Disappearing Island yesterday, just south of Anclote Island on the west coast of FL. Good to see such a large flock.
  • Wood Pecker
    They've developed a sudden interest in the orange tree, which just went into bloom.
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2003