It was 27 August 2002, while reading the New York Times, when I first suspected that senior officials in the administration of President George W. Bush had commenced lying about Iraq to our fearful, ignorant and gullible American public.
You see, a day earlier Vice President Richard Cheney had spoken publicly about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). ''There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Cheney said. "The Iraq regime has in fact been very busy enhancing its capabilities in the field of chemical and biological agents." Then, more ominously, Cheney added: "We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons."
Today, of course, everybody with an ounce of brains (and their head outside their ass) knows that Cheney's assertions were false. A thorough search conducted by the American forces invading Iraq failed to find any -- ANY! -- weapons of mass destruction.
Unfortunately, too few of these belatedly informed Americans recognize that reprehensible Cheney lied about Iraq's WMD. Lied? Yes, lied! When reprehensible Cheney said "we now know," he cited firsthand testimony provided by Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel Hassan. But, in doing so, he brazenly counted on the high probability that ignorant Americans and incompetent news reporters would not know that Kamal had been dead since 1996. How could one otherwise risk asserting "we now know" in 2002?
Compounding the evil buttressing reprehensible Cheney's deceit was his silence about that part of Kamal's testimony that actually contradicted Cheney's reprehensible lies. We now know that, during his debriefing, Kamal claimed: "All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons--biological, chemical, missile, nuclear--were destroyed." Isn't it funny how reprehensible Cheney never bothered to mention that part?
Sitting on the stage behind reprehensible Cheney during his lie-infested speech was a puzzled Gen. Anthony C. Zinni. As former chief of the Central Command (Centcom), Zinni had been responsible for enforcing the "no-fly" zones over Iraq and had access to the intelligence concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Yet, as Zinni has said, "In my time at Centcom, I watched the intelligence, and never--not once--did it say, '[Saddam] has WMD'" (Washington Post, December 23, 2003).
Although I didn't know about Kamal or Zinni on 27 August 2002, I had read enough about nuclear proliferation to doubt that Iraq had nukes. Moreover, it seemed highly improbable that Saddam Hussein would attempt to acquire them at the very moment when the United States was spoiling for a fight. Thus, I suspected that reprehensible Cheney was lying about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, but lacked definitive evidence to challenge him.
Neither did I know on 27 August 2002 that, a month earlier (in July 2002), the Bush administration already had decided to invade Iraq. In fact, I believed President Bush when, on several occasions after July 2002, he falsely claimed that he had not yet made the decision to go to war. Having fallen for those lies, how could I have possibly known that the Bush administration was in the midst of the 935 false statements it would make in the two years following 9/11.
How do we now know that Bush lying about his decision to go to war? Because: (1) In July 2002, National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice told the State Department's Richard Hass that the decision to invade Iraq already had been made and (2) the leak, in 2005, of the highly classified Downing Street Memo revealed that top British officials discussed, in July 2002, Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
The Downing Street Memo contains the minutes of a 23 July 2002 meeting in which the head of British Intelligence, Sir Richard Dearlove, briefed Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers about his recent meeting in the U.S. with President Bush and his top advisers.
As a result of his meeting with Bush, Dearlove was convinced that U.S. President had decided to attack Iraq. "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy".There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath of military action."
Thus, nearly a month before reprehensible Vice President Cheney lied about what "we now know" about Iraq's nuclear program, the head of British Intelligence "knew" that the Bush administration was preparing to fill empty American heads with propaganda about Saddam's WMD and ties to al Qaeda.
Nevertheless, not knowing what Kamal, Zinni, Haas and British intelligence already knew, I concentrated on Bush's decision to subordinate America's long-standing policy of containment to a new, very un-American, precedent-setting policy of embracing "preemptive" war.
As Bush told cadets at West Point on 1 June 2002, the "war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge."
When, in September 2002, President Bush officially enshrined his policy of preemptive war in his National Security Strategy, I wrote an Op-Ed, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/preemption.html that warned him, his administration and the American public that a declared policy of preemptive war was not only contrary to the American tradition, but also placed enormous pressure on our intelligence agencies to get it right when concluding that the United States was in danger of an imminent attack. For only -- ONLY! -- the threat of an imminent attack justifies preemptive war.
(Under international law, which the U.S. helped to create, there are only three circumstances under which any nation is legally justified to go to war: (1) after suffering an actual attack, (2) to prevent an imminent attack and (3) with the authorization of the United Nations. Any war initiated outside these three provisions -- as Bush's invasion proved to be -- is nothing less than naked aggression, similar to Nazi Germany's attack on Poland.)
If nothing else, my article in the Inquirer put my opposition to preemptive war (without bulletproof intelligence) on the public record nearly half a year before Bush unleashed his so-called preemptive war against Iraq. If nothing else, when the so-called intelligence used to support that invasion proved to be bogus, I could shout: "I told you so!"
Yet, even the doubts I expressed in that article vastly underestimated the reckless and evil game that members of the Bush administration were playing. As I later realized, it was a mistake to take the Bush administration at its word, when it talked about preemptive war. As I later realized, when Bush said "preemptive" war, he actually meant "preventive" war.
A preemptive war is justified when a nation concludes -- based upon solid intelligence -- that it is about to suffer an imminent attack. If, however, you adopt a policy to "confront the worst threats before they emerge," as President Bush did, you can't possibly be talking about an imminent attack. If the treat hasn't emerged, an attack cannot be imminent. Thus, if your policy really is to "confront the worst threats before they emerge," you have, in fact, given yourself license to attack anyone for any reason at any time. It's preventive war. It's illegal and considered the worst of war crimes.
You might recall that, after the invasion began, many conservative supporters of the war asserted that Bush never claimed that Iraq constituted an imminent threat. What morons! If, indeed, the threat was not imminent, then Bush's invasion was preventive war, a war of naked aggression similar to the naked aggression that got Nazis convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.
Indeed, Bush initially fooled me by talking about preemptive war, when his black heart and deceiving gut really were set on preventive war. Anyone who has read the eyewitness account of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's two years in the Bush administration (see The Price of Loyalty) knows that Bush's and reprehensible Cheney's obsession with removing Saddam Hussein from power dated from their very first days in office.
(Tragically, their obsession with Saddam's removal caused them to virtually ignore intelligence warnings about a possible attack by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorists. Between his inauguration in January 2001 and the terrorist attacks in September, "Bush received 44 morning intelligence reports from the CIA mentioning the al Qaeda threat, and not once did he say" "let's begin a process to stop the attack.'" [Anderson, p. 64] Thus, although we'll never know whether even their best efforts could have prevented the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it's quite possible that their obsession with Iraq increased the probability that such attacks would succeed. If such was the case, they were criminally negligent.)
And, of course, if you are dishonorable enough to talk about preemptive war, while really intending naked aggression (preventive war), then you certainly do not feel any moral obligation to get the intelligence right. And, in fact, they didn't.
As Terry H. Anderson tells us -- in the first scholarly history of Bush's Wars to hit bookstores -- all of the false rhetoric employed by the Bush administration to convince Americans that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction was simply that: delusional rhetoric. As evidence, Professor Anderson cites the study that uncovered 935 false statements by the Bush administration during the first two years after 9/11 as well as the Downing Street Memo. (How stupid does an American have to be to fail to detect even one false statement?)
Moreover, Professor Anderson notes the astounding admission of Neocon warmonger, Paul Wolfowitz: "we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason" to go to war. "Everyone" in the Bush administration agreed Iraq possessed WMD. Yet, no weapons were found!
This shameful disconnect between belief and reality is awe- inspiring testimony to the ability of psychotic Neocon ideology -- like Nazi ideology seventy years earlier -- to create delusional groupthink.
Thus, while they encouraged deluded Neocon Douglas Feith and his "Gestapo office" to run amok in fabricating bogus evidence linking Saddam to al Qaeda, the rest of the delusional Bush administration seized on anything that might scare ignorant Americans into sharing their certainty about WMD.
Simply recall a few of their preposterous assertions: (1) bogus claims, disputed by Air Force intelligence, about unmanned drones capable of delivering chemical or biological agents to the shores of the Eastern U.S.; (2) bogus claims, dismissed by German intelligence, about mobile biological labs; (3) bogus claims based upon suspiciously planted documents, shown to be false by U.S. and UN experts, alleging Iraq's attempt to purchase yellowcake; and (4) bogus claims that aluminum tubes could "only" be used for nuclear weapons, despite the fact that they had been used for other purposes in the past.
Given the delusions motivating the warmongering jackals in the Bush administration, any subsequent excuses they made, which shifted blame to mistakes made by America's intelligence agencies or other countries around the world,stand beneath contempt. Simply consider that it was the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, not the Bush administration, which requested the CIA to conduct a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's WMD. Consider that the CIA's NIE was slapped together in only three weeks. Consider that the NIE expressed "low confidence" in its own findings that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear weapons program. Finally, consider that it cautioned: "We lack specific information on many aspects of Iraq's WMD programs."
But, then, hard evidence was never required. After all, Bush (the "Decider") was obsessed with preventive war while America's shameful incarnation of Darth Vader, the reprehensible Cheney, was operating according to the "one percent doctrine." "If there was just a one percent chance that there might be another terrorist attack, response would be immediate." As Cheney put it, "It's not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence"It's about our response." [Anderson, p. 230] In a word, these evil bastards were simply looking for any excuse to attack Iraq.
Lest there be any confusion about such evil and hubris, simply recall that, in the summer of 2002, a senior Bush administration official told journalist Ron Suskind that journalists are in the "reality based community," but that's "not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating new realities." [Ibid]
One the one hand, that senior official was correct. They were quite adept at "creating new realities" that scared a majority of ignorant Americans into supporting Bush's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. How else do you explain a poll in late September 2001, showing only 6 percent of Americans thought that bin Laden had collaborated with Saddam Hussein in arranging the attacks, but a poll in March 2003, showing 53 percent of Americans erroneously linking Saddam to the 9/11 attacks? Of that 53%, fully 80% supported Bush's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.
(Once you understand this process of Bush administration jackals harnessing American jackasses, you begin to understand how so many Germans could have been duped by Hitler.)
On the other hand, that senior Bush administration official was wrong, when it came to creating new realities" in Iraq. For, not only did Iraq's insurgents have their say about the "new realities," which American soldiers attempted to impose, so did Iran. And so did the rest of the world, which largely came to despise the United States for Bush's war. In fact, they are having their say to this very day. Simply consider how Bush's war bolstered Iran's position in the Middle East.
Americans who never learned the details of Bush's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq should read -- as penance for the 100,000 innocent Iraqi citizens who perished as an indirect consequence of their gross stupidity -- Terry H. Anderson's book, Bush's Wars. He very competently lays out the voluminous evidence that supports his judicious conclusion that Bush's invasion of Iraq was a "war of choice" and thus an illegal war under international law.
On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Americans solemnly commemorated the 10th anniversary of the day that al Qaeda terrorists, under the direction of Osama bin Laden, flew hijacked airplanes into the Pentagon and the twin towers of World Trade Center. It was a wicked, brutal, shocking and completely unjustified attack that not only united Americans and much of the world in grief, but also an attack that demanded a thoughtful and resolute response.
Because bin Laden was conducting his terrorist operations under the protection provided by the Taliban leaders ruling Afghanistan, President George W. Bush's decision to attack Afghanistan was not only logical, but legal under international law. Thus, he had my support.
Less logical, however, was Bush's decision to wage a "war on terror." How do you wage war on a tactic? Moreover, why wage war, when the cooperation of intelligence agencies, special operations and international police forces would probably prove sufficient to track down the attackers?
Why? Because, the Bush administration needed something more than a police action to accomplish its real objective: the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Consider that the Bush administration spent the first nine months of its existence planning to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Then consider that, in the early hours after the 9/11 attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld demanded the "best info fast; judge whether good enough to hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time,"Go massive, Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
"Things related and not" is a very appropriate phrase that captures all the erroneous assumptions, exaggerations and lies that the Bush administration hurled at a frightened and ignorant American public, in order to stampede them into supporting what would prove to be an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. Thus, although I also paused to reflect with my fellow Americans as we commemorated the 10th anniversary of al Qaeda's brutal and criminal attack on our country, I have nothing but contempt for all of those hypocritical American commemorators who supported Bush's equally brutal and criminal attack on Iraq.
Simply put, Americans cannot claim to be honorable, until they bring the criminals in the Bush administration to justice