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Bait, Switch, Switch and Switch

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It was the old bait and switch, but not like the one where you make a trip to the appliance store to buy the 4 slice toaster on sale and end up with a stainless steel gas range and the matching refrigerator/freezer. When the marketing campaign for the Iraq war kicked off in the fall of 2002, we were promised an enemy with the starch to attack us—otherwise what’s to preempt? Trouble was a brewin’ according to the President. Saddam already had thousands of tons of chemical weapons and “…large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons—including anthrax and botulism toxin, and possibly smallpox,” as Donald Rumsfeld put it. Toss in some mushroom clouds from Condi, and hell Edna, we’ve got a clear and present danger on our hands. What’s the holdup—it should be raining Daisy Cutters by now?

Then, after lots of explosions, dying, shock, awe, screaming and a thorough search, and it looked like no WMD would be found—suddenly, any type of evidence—suspicious empty containers, recipe books of easy to make poisons for the working girl, or an abandoned Winnebago could be offered as replacement proof for tons of toxins. The President nearly wet himself when empty trailers—what he hoped were, but weren’t labs—were found a month after he declared victory. “Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons. They're illegal,” squealed Bush.

Saddam broke the law, you say? Well, I’ll be snookered. What about his fishing license—is it laminated correctly? I thought we were in imminent danger? You remember—the 45 minute attack scenario, yellowcake, and “…a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.” Just give him a ticket and we’ll move on to the next spoke in the axis of evil. Good grief.

After the trailers were dubbed “the biggest sand toilets in the world,” the administration realized it was time to get everyone on the same page once again and rejigger the reasoning and excuses for blowing up a foreign country. So the President and his people had a meeting and worked out the basis for a story that gets repeated to this day. Karl presided.

“OK everybody, listen up. We haven’t found squat and the key players look like idiots—especially you Don—Mr. “we know exactly where the WMD are.” By the way, people are wondering why we didn’t just blast those spots, instead of blabbing about the location. Good one.

Anyway…wait a minute! I might have something. Did we ever say imminent—the actual word? Dick! Wake up for crying out loud. Did we say it? I don’t think so—we just said they had illegal weapons and that’s what everybody else thought, too, right? That’s how I remember it. Even Clinton thought they had WMD—and he’s smart, so if he was wrong…and the French, don’t forget about those jerks—if they thought there was WMD, well that’s case closed. Hell, most everybody figured Saddam had a little something in the cupboard, but we were the only ones to run around and make a big deal about it…as if Iraq was really scary—thanks again, Don, and you too, Dick. Oh, for crissakes, is he asleep again, or just dead? Never mind. We’ll check later.

So remember now—number one is everybody else thought he had WMD, too. Then two; the imminent thing. Imminent? Who ever said anything about imminent? Never hear of that word. If you did, shut up—I don’t want to know. Then, gassed his own people, bad intelligence, attacked his neighbors, mowed grass against the grain, broke UN Resolutions, yada, yada—a bad seed indeed. Evil, evil…hey! Is anybody writing this down?”

But, simply finding or thinking Iraq had chemicals or smallpox was never offered as a rationale for war when this shindig started. Supposedly, Saddam was a force that needed reckoning with and needed to be stopped—or else. But, with or without WMD, Iraq was never was a threat to the United States—and the administration knew it.

Saddam’s dilapidated military had no way to deliver a weapon or a pizza—his fighter planes not de-assembled by bombs during the Gulf War haven’t hit anything for years, and his Navy?—two bass boats and a guy with a used Kmart wetsuit and a snorkel with the little ping pong ball thing missing. The poor sap has nearly drowned seventeen times.

U. S. fighter jets enforced no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq. Weapons inspectors were in the country. Troops sat close by in neighboring states. Satellites orbited overhead and George was practicing with the new wiretap kit he got for his birthday. If ever a nation was covered with a wet mattress, it was Iraq.

Condi Rice explained the Iraq situation to John King of CNN on July 29, 2001 saying, “But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.”

And a few months earlier, in February 2001, Colin Powell talked about the US-led sanctions against Iraq, saying, “And frankly they have worked. He [Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq...”

And, as reported by Murray Waas of the National Journal, it seems that Commander-in-Chief Bush received a National Intelligence Estimate stating that “U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that it was unlikely that Saddam would try to attack the United States—except if “ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime” or if he intended to “extract revenge” for such an assault, according to records and sources.” Furthermore; “On at least four earlier occasions, beginning in the spring of 2002, according to the same records and sources, the president was informed during his morning intelligence briefing that U.S. intelligence agencies believed it was unlikely that Saddam was an imminent threat to the United States.”

So everyone can stop it already with the WMD talk. It never mattered. Journalists, pundits, politicians, TV heads, Bush apologists—it’s not relevant. The President was taking us to war, one way or the other. Intelligence from every country in the world may have thought the demented little dictator had some banned inventory, but it was Bush and the boys who built him up into a dangerous man—a solitary individual frightened our great leader and George Bush needs to be held accountable.
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Ron Schalow from Fargo, North Dakota is the author of "Bullshit Artist - The 9/11 Leadership Myth" a book about George W. Bush and his pathetic performance on September 11.
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