Nobody likes being lied to, especially when tens of thousands of lives and trillions of tax dollars hang in the balance.
Some have perfected the fib to industrial strength. American leaders have a storied knack for inventing truths to stoke the flames of fear for war, but the fabricated set-up for the second Bush camp's post-9/11 ransack of Iraq, a decade-long hunt for the still-mythical lair called "Terror," was unprecedented in audacity. The lies flew by like machine-gun blasts, giving earlier efforts like the pre-Vietnam Gulf of Tonkin fairy tale the air of squirt-gun fire.
I've earned the right to feel this way.
As an Army veteran of the first Gulf War with the 82nd Airborne Division and a professional journalist for nearly 15 years, I have endured more than my share of deception. So no one can question my patriotism when I say that the greediest Americans in the uppermost minority are the masters of this deception, which not only regularly makes us all look like hypocritical heathens to the rest of the world, but sacrifices life after life, at home and abroad, to secure their reign and market dominance.
The examples abound, in plain view. Like: Bush Jr.'s Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican puppet-master all the way back to Nixon, secured for his former company Halliburton $40 billion in no-bid contracts to rebuild the oil and civil infrastructure that his toy soldiers had just decimated. Does anyone think this is a national secret contained within our borders for only us to dwell upon? (International Business Journal)
No. The world scoffs at all of us for letting this and so many other underhanded machinations wear the cloak of democracy and freedom.
911: President George W. Bush Meets with National Security Council by The U.S. National Archives
I wrote a cover story in 2007 for Cleveland Free Times about U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich's spearheading an impeachment effort against Bush/Cheney during his failed presidential bid, centered mainly around the White House's pre-war lies. Not only was he belittled by all but the most long-haired of hippie diehards; all the other candidates during the first Democratic debates wouldn't discuss the idea or even the worth of its indictments. Kucinich, holding his pocket Constitution as a prop, knew that would happen: ""The American people should know that there's at least one person running for president who wants to reconnect America with its goodness, with its greatness, with its highest principles, which currently are not being reflected by those who are in the White House." Or even his own party of hippies-turned-rich.
In 2013, as politicians turn to point their puffed-out chests on new potential targets like Libya, North Korea, and Iran, it wouldn't hurt to deflate their rhetoric at least a little by running it through the sieve of some proven lies that the Bush camp poker-faced us into believing for long enough to start another war.
- Bush and Co. told Americans (and even the world at the UN through Chief of Staff Colin Powell) that Iraq still had stockpiles of WMDs, but two CIA agents went on the record in 2006 with proof that Bush had been told that they didn't by his own CIA director, George Tenet. (Salon.Com)
- It wasn't just that they had them, Powell fumbled further, but in enormously destructive quantities: "Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons," enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." Conservative estimate, indeed. An exhaustively sourced analysis by the National Security Archive at George Washington University makes clear that no such stockpile was ever found or even suspected to exist by UN inspectors, not to mention the bottom line that, even if Iraq still had such weapons, they would have been a decade or more old -- well past the born-on date to effectively exact any terror. (http://Www.Gwu.Edu/~Nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB80/)
- Holes riddled the official story, but not until the damage had already been done -- or, rather, gotten underway. Powell produced what he called "some of the most solid" intelligence in such a way as to confirm that Iraq also had mobile production plants for WMDs, making the threat even more vivid and imminent. After scores of independent probes by engineers and weapons scientists, however, Powell ended up reversing his earlier position, saying a year later that "the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it." Apparently, even the hoodwinkers can be hoodwinked. (click here)
- Bush, Cheney, and other mouthpieces invented intelligence to suggest an Iraqi/al-Qaeda connection. "[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade," Tenet wrote in a late 2002 statement that Bush touted that night in a publicized speech. Cheney went so far as to call the proof of such a connection "overwhelming." Turns out, the CIA had indeed confirmed a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Queda -- one in the early 1990s, which The Sept. 11 Commission concluded in 2004 had never carried into the future. (click here)
- Bush et. al. kept the stories coming. Americans were also told that Iraq was amassing the components for nuclear weaponry, in cahoots with al-Qaeda trainees, but they weren't and especially not with al-Qaeda, according to the authors of an exhaustive account of the ruse, "The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told us About Iraq." At the Authors' Website, several lies centered around this idea are presented: Bush said in an Oct. 7, 2002, speech that "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment " to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons," but the Department of Energy and intelligence sources were quick to argue that these types of vessels can't be used for such purposes. In March of 2003, Cheney leaped into wildly uncorroborated claims for Meet the Press, saying that Iraq "has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons" -- even though the CIA had consistently reported that no such capability existed.
- Why should Cheney have worried about being questioned about his sources? Cheney's "boss" had just announced in his State of the Union address a few months earlier that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" -- one of the most persisting fibs of the campaign that, two months later, was underway. After media scrutiny, however, it was learned the Niger documents on which those allegations were based were fabrications passed through Italian intelligence that Bush's neocon think-tankers pressed for inclusion in Bush's speech, even though Bush's own intelligence agencies vehemently denied the threat after having sent an operative to personally investigate and debunk the ruse. (http://Www.Vanityfair.Com/Contributors/Craig-Unger)
And on and on, enough to make an old soldier even sicker and more tired than I should be. The fact that no consequences ever befell the perpetrators of this deadly and costly barrage of lies only intensifies my malaise all these years later because it means that more lies are probably buried or waiting their turns to be told.
After four years in military intelligence with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division -- including eight months during Operation Desert Shield/Storm -- Dan Harkins received a bachelor's in journalism from the University of South Florida and began A Career as a journalist that has now spanned more than 15 years. After working as a reporter or editor for dailies like the St. Petersburg Times and Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, he gravitated toward the alternative press as an Associate editor at Cleveland Free Times and a staff writer for Cleveland Scene. He currently lives in Florida, freelancing for blogs and other websites while finishing up his first book of fiction.