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Powell, Rice’s credibility at risk
Black presidential Cabinet members sent out to explain war
Joe Davidson
June 11 — It’s a bit ironic that African Americans finally occupy the nation’s highest foreign policy positions when the nation has its most contentious foreign policy in a generation.

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Yet, his credibility, the president’s and the entire nation’s are at risk because no weapons were used or found. Beyond that, some statements have been proven false.

NOW SECRETARY of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice must explain America’s war against Iraq, a war based on so far unproven reports that the Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
The Bush administration sent the two to the Sunday morning talk shows this week, in an effort to squelch the growing weapons controversy. They gave a spirited, if not convincing, defense of what many in the world and a growing number at home believe was a weak and still unsubstantiated rational for sending U.S. troops to kill and be killed.
“I believe that we will find them,” Rice told NBC. “I think that we have already found important clues like the biological weapons laboratories....”

Powell told Fox News that finding the weapons will come from “the intensive search that is ahead of us... I’m sure more evidence and more proof will come forward as we go down this road.”
Neither Rice nor Powell was asked why Saddam Hussein didn’t use the weapons, if he had them, when America attacked. Certainly he had enough advance warning. And he had nothing to lose. President Bush made it clear that Hussein’s overthrow was the objective of the invasion. front
In addition to the lives lost, the bodies damaged and the property destroyed, another casualty of the war has been America’s credibility. Powell seems to understand this. He told Fox that before his Feb. 5 United Nations speech, he spent “four days and nights out at the CIA, making sure that whatever I said was supported by our intelligence holdings. Because, it wasn’t the president’s credibility and my credibility in line, it was the credibility of the United States of America.”
Yet, his credibility, the president’s and the entire nation’s are at risk because no weapons were used or found. Beyond that, some statements have been proven false. For example, in his State of the Union address, Bush said Hussein was attempting to develop nuclear weapons. “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa,” Bush said with assurance.

Now, it’s left to Rice to admit that report was false, a fact that was known at the CIA as Bush spoke. “We did not know at the time—no one knew at the time, in our circles — maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery. Of course, it was information that was mistaken,” she said on NBC. “But the — it was a relatively small part of the case about nuclear weapons and nuclear reconstitution.”
Because of bogus information like this, any weapons now found would be greeted with loads of skepticism. The administration’s refusal to allow international inspectors into Iraq to participate in the search increases the likelihood that many in the world would believe that any belatedly found weapons were planted to justify Bush’s war.
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For months, administration officials said with certainty that Hussein’s regime was a threat to the U.S. that had to be eliminated because he possessed biological and chemical weapons. In a Sept. 26 Rose Garden statement, as the administration was building its case for war, Bush said: “The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order were given.”

Powell was even more specific when he told the United Nations that “our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent.”
The statements flowed non-stop. On March 17, Bush delivered an ultimatum to Hussein two days before the war began, saying: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
Rice insists the intelligence about the weapons was solid. “This was a very clear picture,” she told CBS. On the basis of that intelligence, the president decided to go to war. “And it’s quite clear to me,” she added, “that he was right to do what he did.”
Unfortunately, there’s little evidence that’s correct.

Joe Davidson is’s political columnist
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