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Cheney's Legacy: Honesty Still in Short Supply

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As the world marks the centennial of World War I, the guns of August are again being oiled by comfortable politicians and the fawning corporate media, both bereft of any sense of history. And that includes much more recent history, namely the deceitful campaign that ended up bringing destruction to Iraq and widened conflict throughout the Middle East. That campaign went into high gear 12 years ago today.

On August 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney -- who remains something of a folk hero on Fox News -- formally launched the lies leading to the U.S.-UK attack on Iraq seven months later. And on August 30, 2013, Syria was 20 hours away from a similar fate after Secretary of State John Kerry claimed falsely -- no fewer than 35 times -- to "know" that the government of Syria was responsible for using sarin nerve gas in an attack outside Damascus on August 21, 2013.

Unlike 12 years ago, when the Pentagon was run by Field Marshal Donald Rumsfeld and the military martinets who called themselves generals but danced to his tune, war with Syria was averted last year when Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey talked sense into a young President who was on the verge of making a terrible mistake by bending to the Cheneyesque hawks now perched atop the State Department.

As if to mark Cheney's day of deceit a dozen Augusts ago, this morning's Washington Post editorializes: "Stepping back into the fray: Stopping the Islamic State will require 'boots on the ground.'" As is its custom, the Post offers no enlightenment on what motivates jihadists to do unspeakably evil things -- in other words, "why they hate us" -- or why Gulf allies of the U.S. fund them with such largesse.

Sadly, the thinking of Establishment Washington is no more refined today that it was on January 8, 2010 when the late Helen Thomas asked then-White House counter-terrorism czar and now CIA Director John Brennan why the "underwear bomber," who on December 25, 2009 tried to down a U.S. passenger plane, did what he did. (See "Answering Helen Thomas on Why")

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Thomas: "And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why."

Brennan: "Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents... They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he's (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death."

Thomas: "And you're saying it's because of religion?"

Brennan: "I'm saying it's because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way."

Thomas: "Why?"

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Brennan: "I think this is a -- long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland."

Thomas: "But you haven't explained why."

Neither has President Obama, or anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is boilerplate about how al-Qaeda evildoers are perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men. There is almost no discussion about why so many people in the Muslim world object to U.S. policies so strongly that they are inclined to resist violently and even resort to suicide attacks.

It is the same now. Lacking is any frank discussion by America's leaders and media about the real motivation of Muslim anger toward the United States? Why was Helen Thomas the only journalist to raise the touchy but central question of motive? But I digress.

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
 

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