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Woodward Comes Out From Inside the White House on Iraq

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"In retrospect I have not seen or heard anything from the other opiners that suggests to me that they have any reason to believe that they were right and we were wrong. Nor can I prove we were right and they were wrong. The only thing I can say is they seem to have a lot more certainty than my assessment of the facts would permit me to have." -- Rumsfeld as quoted in Bob Woodward's book, 'State of Denial'

It's pathetic to hear White House mouthpiece Dan Bartlett complain that his propaganda machine's 'points weren't getting across' to Bob Woodward. "On this project, it was unfortunate that we felt he had already formed some conclusions even before the interviewing began," Bartlett complained to ABC's George Stephanopolos.

It's clear the administration thought they could get props from Woodward, like in the past books which massaged the incredible notion that Bush was 'engaged' and decisive in the wake of 9-11 and up to the Iraq invasion. Whether Woodward makes his case or not in the book, the facts about the disaster in Iraq have been revealed by several sources - including on the White House web site in their 'Setting the Facts Straight' section where they've repeatedly promoted their 'good news' from Iraq alongside warnings about escalating violence - showing that the Iraq occupation has never resembled the boastings of Bush, "Mr. Rosy Scenario".

The White House communication director complained of Woodward's bias. "There was just a sense that, despite spending hours with him, their points weren't getting across," Bartlett told ABC news. "I was really stuck by the fact that the central thesis of this book, the claim that the president was in a state of denial, that he was misleading the America people about what was happening in Iraq," Bartlett complained, "the central thesis . . . quite frankly, is not backed up with the own facts in his book."

On the WH web page entitled, 'Myth/Fact: Five Key Myths in Bob Woodward's Book', Bartlett's team heads it up with a quote from the daily Snowjob: "The reality is the President knows we're in a long war with a determined enemy, and has said so from the start," Tony Snow told reporters.

In this defensive posting, they've put together lines from Bush's speeches where he's digging his heels in the Iraq sand, not wanting to give the impression that he's ready to let go of the main weapon in his political arsenal. These throwaway lines aren't leveling with us, they're dictates from an imperial presidency, lifting its royal finger to the will of the majority of American people who indicated in months of polling that they want our soldiers to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year.

All of this dictum presented as candor is just a sorry excuse for an occupation which was lost in it's conception, and embarked on anyway as cover for Bush's inability to apprehend and prosecute the individuals he says are responsible for the attacks on 9-11. All of the charges in Woodward's book perfectly reinforce what numerous pundits, authors, scholars, and legislators have been railing against since the invasion was first presented, and throughout the occupation.

For Bartlett or anyone else in the Bush regime to now claim that they were presenting an accurate picture of the chaos and unrest in Iraq is to ignore their efforts to pay Iraqi reporters for 'good news' stories, and the recent renewal of the contract of the republican-backed PR firm, the 'Lincoln Group', to troll news stories for 'positive' press to highlight and promote.

Rumsfeld spoke in March on the need to control information surrounding their dual occupations. "U.S. military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions," he said.

"The Pentagon's propaganda machine still operates mostly eight hours a day, five days a week while the challenges it faces occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week." he lamented. He then complained that the "vast media attention about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq outweighed that given to the discovery of "Saddam Hussein's mass graves."

However, he was just upset that there were pictures, proof of their crimes. That's the control they want with the press that surrounds their imperialism. Their concern with the news isn't just about protecting soldiers or catching al-Qaeda. The thrust of their efforts is to create a zone of 'good news' that will permeate the airwaves and print media and obscure the bloody images and alarming reports which provide the public with a clear view of the realities of the disaster in Iraq.

Bush revealed his own desire to shade the news to reflect his rosy outlook on Iraq in a news conference held the same week as Rumsfeld's comments. "It's -- confidence amongst the Iraqis is what is going to be a vital part of achieving a victory," he said, "which will then enable the American people to understand that victory is possible. In other words, the American people will -- their opinions, I suspect, will be affected by what they see on their TV screens . . .

Woodward wrote that he had asked Rumsfeld about the Iraq insurgency, and writes that he said, "It could take eight to 10 years. Insurgencies have a tendency to do that," Rumsfeld reportedly said. "Our exit strategy is to have the Iraqis' government and security forces capable of managing a lower-level insurgency and ultimately achieving victory over it and repressing it over time. But it would be a period after we may very well not have large numbers of people there." That's a far stretch from the 'victory' over the 'terrorists' that Bush says he's keeping our troops in place to achieve "as long as he's president."

The Pentagon and Bush expect for the images of imagined successes, that they pay for and feed into their purchased press in Iraq, to trickle into the mainstream media to be quoted and disseminated around the world as a counter to the realties expressed by the daily violence and despair occurring throughout the occupied nations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Notice how concerned they are with our perception of their occupation. They want to get us on board in their paranoid grab for power with a campaign of propagandized fear. Their 'war' is only authorized by Congress to pursue the 'perpetrators of 9-11", not an open ended license to conquer the world and hijack our hard earned sacrifices to generations of militarism. The only way they can perpetuate that is to lie. The realities of these military interventions don't support Bush's constant boasting about defending democracy, spreading freedom, or defeating terror. All they are left with after three years of oppression in Iraq and Afghanistan is more violence and more 'enemies' bent on our destruction.

The sorry cabal in the White House is finding their reservoir of lies is thin gruel as they ladle out their rehashed defenses to a public demanding truth and clarity about Bush's intentions in Iraq. The deaths of over 2 soldiers every day in Iraq are not as important to Bush and his republican enablers as their campaign to make it look like they've achieved something lasting and meaningful from their sacrifice of over 2711 of our soldiers lives there.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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