As hecklers at a speech in Atlanta on May 4 accused
the Bush administration of lying and then were dragged away one by one,
Rumsfeld appealed for civility and for renewed faith in George W. Bush 's
"You know, that charge [of lying] is frequently
leveled against the President for one reason or another, and it 's so
wrong and so unfair and so destructive of a free system, where people
need to trust each other and government, " Rumsfeld told a crowd of
international affairs experts.
Anyone who 's followed the twisted course of Iraq
War rationales had to marvel at Rumsfeld 's chutzpah, putting
citizen accusers on the defensive and turning government deceivers into
defenders of "a free system. " How could he expect such a transparent
ploy to work?
But the cagey Pentagon chief may have recognized
that he could still score with two target audiences: die-hard Bush
loyalists and the Washington press corps. The word "lie " when applied
to Bush sends Bush's backers into a fury and thus is studiously
avoided by the mainstream press.
The two groups especially reject the l-word when
the evidence shows that Bush and his top advisers have lied about the
Iraq War. Indeed, one of the most enduring and successful lies has been
Bush 's insistence that he treated war with Iraq as a "last resort " and
that Saddam Hussein was the one who "chose war " by refusing to let
United Nations weapons inspectors in.
The reality, however, was that Hussein told the
truth when he said his country no longer had weapons of mass
destruction, as U.S. weapons inspectors later discovered, and he did let
in U.N. inspectors to search wherever they wanted for several months
before Bush launched the invasion on March 19, 2003. But Bush is almost
never challenged when he misrepresents these facts. [For details, see
Consortiumnews.com 's "President
Bush, With the Candlestick ... "]
Insider accounts from former Bush administration
officials, such as Treasury Secretary Paul O 'Neill and counterterrorism
chief Richard Clarke, also revealed that Bush and his senior aides were
spoiling for a war with Iraq from their earliest days in office and
that they exploited the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as a pretext.
British government documents, including the
so-called "Downing Street Memo, " supplied additional corroboration that
Bush "fixed " the intelligence and sought other excuses to justify a war,
such as trying to trick the Iraqis into firing on a U-2 spy plane
painted in U.N. colors. [See Consortiumnews.com 's "George
W. Bush IS a Liar. "]
Yet, despite this now well-established history, the
Washington press corps still acts aghast or mystified when some citizens
accuse Bush and his aides of lying about the Iraq War.
Sometimes, the mainstream journalists explain to
the citizenry that Bush didn 't lie; he was just misled by mistaken
intelligence. Other times, the journalists assert that the President
was, beyond doubt, well-meaning and thus his critics must have some dark
political agenda for attacking his integrity.
That pattern repeated itself when Rumsfeld jousted
with the angry citizens in Atlanta and got more than he had bargained
for. After Rumsfeld bemoaned the harm done by calling Bush a liar,
former CIA analyst Ray McGovern rose to ask several pointed questions.
"Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not
necessary and that has caused these kinds of casualties? Why? " asked
"Well, first of all, I I haven 't lied. I did not
lie then, " Rumsfeld said as he fell back on the argument that the
problem was simply bad intelligence. "I 'm not in the intelligence
business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that
there were not weapons of mass destruction there. "
Persisting in his questions, however, McGovern
cited Rumsfeld 's earlier certainty about where Iraq 's WMD caches were
hidden. McGovern also noted the administration 's now-discredited claims
that Hussein 's government had ties to al-Qaeda terrorists.