A CRACK IN BUSH'S FAADE
By Ted Rall
Growing WMD Scandal Could Lead to Impeachment
MINNEAPOLIS--Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction. He lied to us, the United Nations (news - web sites), and the soldiers he sent to die in Iraq (news - web sites).
Bush's apologists defend his attempts to sell this obscene war as mere
spin, but claiming certain knowledge of something that doesn't exist is
hardly a question of emphasis. It's time to stop wondering where the
WMDs are. Even if nukes and gases and anthrax turn up in prodigious
quantities, it won't matter. Proof of Bush's perfidy, unlike his
accusations that Saddam had something to do with 9/11, is irrefutable.
Before he ordered U.S. forces to kill and
maim tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi soldiers and civilians, Bush
and Co. repeatedly maintained that they had absolute proof that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) still possessed WMDs. "There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," Dick Cheney (news - web sites)
said in August. In January, Ari Fleisher said: "We know for a fact that
there are weapons there." WMDs; not a "WMD program" as they now refer
to it. WMDs--not just indications of possible, or probable, WMDs.
During the first days of the war, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stared into television cameras, looked right
at his employers (that's you and me), and said that he knew exactly where they were. "We know where they are," Rumsfeld said. "They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."
Uh-huh. So where are they?
"Absolute" proof is a high
standard--heck, it's a nearly impossible benchmark. The last time I
checked, my cat was in my kitchen, licking the milk at the bottom of my
cereal bowl. As intel goes, mine is triple-A-rated--I witnessed it this
morning, and I've spent the better part of a decade observing that
animal. But if you were to demand absolute proof
of kitty's current location, I couldn't give it to you. I'd bet that
he's sleeping on my bed. But he could be in the litter box, on the
windowsill, or sneaking out an open window. Truth is, I don't know
where he is. To say otherwise, to present even a well-founded
hypothesis as Fact, would be a lie.
Bush had conjecture, wishful thinking and
stale intelligence going for him. He needed absolute proof, and the
absence thereof is leading to talk of impeachment. Before the invasion
of Iraq, Rumsfeld argues, "Virtually everyone agreed they did [have
WMDs]--in Congress, in successive Democratic and Republican
administrations, in the intelligence communities here in the United
States, and also in foreign countries and at the U.N., even among those
countries that did not favor military action in Iraq." Untrue.
The Bush Administration didn't have proof, so they spent last fall making it up. As Robin Cook, who resigned from Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s
cabinet over the war, told the British Parliament: "Instead of using
intelligence as evidence on which to base a decision about policy, we
used intelligence as the basis to justify a policy on which we had
By January 2003, 81 percent of
respondents to an ABC News poll said they believed that Iraq "posed a
threat to the United States."
Previous administrations, reliant on the CIA (news - web sites)
for reliable information, have traditionally respected a "Chinese wall"
between Langley and the White House. As Republicans blame the CIA for
the missing WMDs, leaks from within the CIA increasingly indicate that
Dick Cheney and others sought to politicize its reports on Iraq,
cherry-picking factoids that backed its war cry and dismissing those
that didn't. This dubious practice culminated with Colin Powell (news - web sites)'s
over-the-top performance before the U.N., where he misrepresented
documents he knew to be forged--which he privately derided as
"bullshit"!--as hard fact.
The Administration's defenders, whose selective morality makes Bill Clinton (news - web sites)
look like a saint, argue that the WMDs don't matter, that Saddam's mass
graves vindicate the war liars. But no one ever denied that Hussein was
evil. The American people knew that Saddam was a butcher during the
'80s when we backed him, and during the '90s when we contained him.
They weren't willing to go to war over regime change in the '00s, which
is why the Administration invented a fictional threat. Now that we know
that presidents lie about the need for war, how will future presidents
rally us against genuine dangers?
Lying to the American people is
impeachable. Waging war without cause is subject to prosecution at the
International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague (news - web sites).
But insiders have to talk before the media can aggressively pursue the
WMD story, prosecutors can be appointed and top evildoers brought to
Now Slaughtergate has its own Alexander
Butterfield. Christian Westermann, a respected State Department
intelligence analyst talking to Congress, has testified that
Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a Bush political appointee,
pressured him to change a report on Cuba so that it would back Bush
claims that Cuba was developing biological weapons. Westermann says
that when he refused, Bolton tried to have him transferred.
Westermann's testimony doesn't relate to
Iraq, but it puts the lie to Bushoid assertions that they never messed
with the CIA. A reliable source informs me that there's a "jihad"
underway between Administration political operatives and the career
intelligence community. "Guys are pissed off that they're being asked
to take the fall for the White House. Look for more leaks in the
future," this official says.
Meanwhile, Gen. Richard Meyers, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been reduced to parsing the meaning
of intelligence: "Intelligence doesn't necessarily mean something is
true," he says.
Now he tells us.
(Ted Rall is the author of "Gas War: The Truth Behind the American Occupation of Afghanistan (news - web sites),"
an analysis of the underreported Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project and
the real motivations behind the war on terrorism. Ordering information
is available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.)
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