July 12, 2003

Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar

This country is definitely at a crossroads. There have
been some indications in the last few days
(particularly last night and this morning) that this
country might choose the road home to the US
Consitution, to strong leadership at the center and on
the left, and to a somewhat unbridled press (at least
on issues of national security)...Last night,
SeeNotNews (CBS) ran a remarkable (for the TV
networks)story: "Bush knew Iraq info was false."
Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mekong Delta), who has
been a little too cautious in his remarks lately, and
has been slowly (too slowly) sharpening his critique,
and this morning the WASHPs gave his remarks last
night some appropriate and respectful coverage (i.e. a
serious article): "Kerry Raps Bush Policy on Post-War
Iraq." BUT you will not read either story here, today
as we sit in the waiting room hoping the "US
mainstream news media" actually is waking from its
coma, we celebrate the Information Rebellion, which
has taken place on the Internet...William Rivers Pitt,
whose site (www.truthout.org) is one of the very best
examples of this Information Rebellion, is using the
kind of language Americans need to hear to rouse them
up from their slumber in the yellow poppy fields and
on to their marching feet...

http://www.liberalslant.com/wrp071103.htm

Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar

By: William Rivers Pitt - 07/11/03

There was a picture on the front page of the New York
Times on Tuesday, July 8. It showed several American
soldiers in Iraq sitting in utter dejection as they
were informed by their battalion commander that none
of them were going home anytime soon, and no one knew
exactly when they were going home at all. PFC Harrison
Grimes sat in the center of this photo with his chin
in his hand, staring at ground that was thousands of
miles from his family and friends. A soldier caught in
the picture just over PFC Grimes' shoulder had a look
on his face that could break rocks.

212 of PFC Grimes' fellow soldiers have died in Iraq,
and 1,044 more have been wounded. The war created
chaos in the cities, and it seems clear now that very
little in the way of preparation was made to address
the fact that invasion leads to social bedlam, not to
mention a lot of shooting. Last Sunday, CNN's Judy
Woodruff showed a clip of a Sergeant Charles Pollard,
who said, "All we are here is potential people to be
killed and sitting ducks."

According to the numbers, almost two thirds of the
soldiers killed in Iraq since May 1 died in
"non-combat related" mishaps like accidental weapons
discharges, accidental detonations of unexploded
ordnance, and questionable car crashes. There are some
in the world who might take comfort from the fact that
only one third of the dead since May came from snipers
or bombs or rocket-propelled grenades. Dead is dead,
however. There is no comforting them.

A significant portion of the dead and wounded came
after Bush performed his triumphant swagger across the
deck of an aircraft carrier that was parked just
outside San Diego bay. Those dead and wounded came
because the Bush administration's shoddy planning for
this whole event left the troopers on the firing line
wide open to the slow and debilitating bloodletting
they have endured. A significant portion of the dead
and wounded came after Bush stuck his beady chin out
on national television and said, "Bring 'em on!"

When a leader sends troops out into the field of
battle, they become his responsibility. When his war
planning is revealed to be profoundly faulty, flawed
in ways that are getting men killed, he should not
stick his banty rooster chest out to the cameras and
speak with the hollow bravado of a man who knows he is
several time zones away from the violence and
bloodshed.

Such behavior is demonstrably criminal from a moral
standpoint. The events that led to this reprehensible
display were criminal in a far more literal sense.

Bush and the White House told the American people over
and over again that Iraq was in possession of vast
stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear
weapons. Bush and the White House said over and over
again that this was a direct threat to the United
States. Bush and the White House told the American
people over and over again that Iraq was directly
connected to al Qaeda terrorism, and would hand those
terrible weapons over to the terrorists the first
chance they got. Bush and the White House told
Congress the same thing. Very deliberately, Bush and
the White House tied a war in Iraq to the attack of
September 11.

It was all a lie. All of it.

When George W. Bush delivered his
constitutionally-mandated State of the Union Address
in January 2003, he stated flatly that Iraq was
attempting to develop a nuclear weapons program. "The
British government has learned," said Bush in his
speech, "that Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium in Africa." He
delivered this proclamation on the basis of
intelligence reports which claimed that Iraq was
attempting to procure uranium from the African nation
of Niger.

Vice President Cheney got the Niger ball rolling in a
speech delivered August 26, 2002 when he said Saddam
Hussein had "resumed his effort to acquire nuclear
weapons." As the data clearly shows, Mr. Cheney was a
central player in the promulgation of the claim that
Iraq was grubbing for uranium in Africa. This
statement was the opening salvo.

CIA Director George Tenet made this same claim in a
briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee on
September 24, 2002. This briefing was the deciding
factor for a number of Senatorial fence-sitters unsure
about voting for war. Bush, in a speech delivered on
the eve of the Congressional vote for war on Iraq,
referenced the Niger uranium claims again when he
raised the specter of a "mushroom cloud" just three
sentences after evoking "The horror of September 11."

That sealed the deal. Congress voted for war, and a
clear majority of the people supported the President.

In the last week, a blizzard of revelations from
high-ranking members of the intelligence community has
turned these Bush administration claims inside out. It
began with a New York Times editorial by Joseph
Wilson, former US ambassador to several African
nations. Wilson was dispatched in February of 2002 at
the behest of Dick Cheney to investigate the veracity
of the Niger evidence. Wilson spent eight days digging
through the data, and concluded that the evidence was
completely worthless. The documents in question which
purportedly indicated Iraqi attempts to purchase
uranium were crude forgeries.

Upon his return in February of 2002, Ambassador Wilson
reported back to the people who sent him on his
errand. According to his editorial, the CIA, the State
Department, the National Security Council and the Vice
President's office were all informed that the Niger
documents were forged. "That information was
erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both
the publication of the British white paper and the
president's State of the Union address," said Wilson
in a 'Meet the Press' interview last Sunday.

"I have little choice but to conclude that some of the
intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program
was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," Wilson
wrote in his Times editorial. "A legitimate argument
can be made that we went to war under false
pretenses." He elaborated further in a Washington Post
interview, saying, "It really comes down to the
administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue
that was a fundamental justification for going to war.
It begs the question, what else are they lying about?"

Ambassador Wilson's claims are not easily dismissed.
Wilson is a 23-year veteran of the foreign service who
was the top diplomat in Baghdad before the first Gulf
War. In 1990, he was lauded by the first President
Bush for his work. "What you are doing day in and day
out under the most trying conditions is truly
inspiring," cabled Bush Sr. "Keep fighting the good
fight."

A great hue and cry has been raised as to the timing
of the data delivery to the policy-makers. Don
Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice have both claimed they
knew nothing of the forged Niger evidence, claiming
the information was buried in the "bowels" of the
intelligence services. Vice President Cheney's office
has made similar demurrals. Obviously, the
administration is attempting to scapegoat the CIA.

Given the nature of Wilson's claims, and given who he
is, and given the fact that he was sent to Niger at
the behest of Dick Cheney, it is absurd to believe the
administration was never given the data they
specifically asked for over a year before the war
began, and eleven months before Bush's fateful State
of the Union Address.

27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern, writing in a recent
editorial, described a conversation he had with a
senior official who recently served at the National
Security Council. "The fact that Cheney's office had
originally asked that the Iraq-Niger report be checked
out," said the official, "makes it inconceivable that
his office would not have been informed of the
results."

Wilson is not alone. Greg Thielmann served as Director
of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and
Research until his retirement in September. Mr.
Thielmann has come forward recently to join Ambassador
Wilson in denouncing the Bush administration's
justifications for war in Iraq.

"I believe the Bush administration did not provide an
accurate picture to the American people of the
military threat posed by Iraq," said Thielmann on
Wednesday. During his press conference, Mr. Thielmann
said that, as of the commencement of military
operations in March of 2003, "Iraq posed no imminent
threat to either its neighbors or to the United
States". Mr. Thielmann also dismissed the oft-repeated
claims of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.
"This administration has had a faith-based
intelligence attitude," he said.

Thielmann could have saved his breath, and Wilson
could have saved himself a trip, if the Bush
administration had bothered to pay any attention to
the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA's
chief spokesman, Mark Gwozdecky, said on September 26,
2002 that no such evidence existed to support claims
of a nascent Iraqi nuclear program.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on July 8 stood
before the press corps and said the President's
statements during the State of the Union address had
been "incorrect."

Let us look at the timeline of this and consider the
definition of "incorrect":


February 2002: Ambassador Joseph Wilson is
dispatched by Cheney to Niger to investigate
Iraq-uranium claims. Eight days later, he reports back
that the documentary evidence was a forgery;

August 26, 2002: Dick Cheney claims Iraq is
developing a nuclear program;

September 24, 2002: CIA Director Tenet briefs the
Senate Intelligence Committee on the reported Iraqi
nuclear threat, using the Niger evidence to back his
claims;

September 26, 2002: The IAEA vigorously denies that
any such nuclear program exists in Iraq;

October 6, 2002: George W. Bush addresses the nation
and threatens the American people with "mushroom
clouds" delivered by Iraq, using the same Niger
evidence;

October 10, 2002: Congress votes for war in Iraq,
based on the data delivered by Tenet and by the
nuclear rhetoric from Bush four days prior;

January 2003: George W. Bush, in his State of the
Union Address, says, "The British government has
learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought
significant quantities of uranium in Africa."

March-April 2003: War in Iraq kills thousands of
civilians and destabilizes the nation;

April-July 2003: No evidence whatsoever of chemical,
biological or nuclear weapons can be found in Iraq.
212 American soldiers have died, and 1,044 more have
been wounded, as a guerilla war is undertaken by Iraqi
insurgents;

July 2003: Amid accusations from former intelligence
officials, the Bush administration denies ever having
known the Niger evidence was fake.


The Bush administration knew full well that their
evidence was worthless, and still stood before the
American people and told them it was fact. Bush sent
the Director of the CIA to the Senate under orders to
use the same worthless evidence to cajole that body
into war.

That is not being "incorrect." That is lying. In the
context of Bush's position as President, and
surrounded by hundreds of dead American soldiers piled
alongside thousands of dead Iraqi civilians, that is a
crime.

They know it, too.

A report hit the Reuters wires late Tuesday night
announcing the arrest of an Iraqi intelligence
official named Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani. An
unnamed "US official" claimed al-Ani had reportedly
met with 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta in Prague just
months before the attack. The old saw about Iraq
working fist in glove with al Qaeda to bring about
September 11 was back in the news.

According to the story, neither the CIA or the FBI
could confirm this meeting had taken place. In fact, a
Newsweek report from June 9 entitled "Where are the
WMDs?" shows the FBI was completely sure such a
meeting had never taken place. The snippet below is
from the Newsweek article; the 'Cabal' statement
refers to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his coterie
of hawks who have been all-out for war on Iraq since
1997:

"The Cabal was eager to find a link between Saddam and
Al Qaeda, especially proof that Saddam played a role
in the 9-11 attacks. The hard-liners at Defense seized
on a report that Muhammad Atta, the chief hijacker,
met in Prague in early April 2001 with an Iraqi
intelligence official. Only one problem with that
story, the FBI pointed out. Atta was traveling at the
time between Florida and Virginia Beach, Va. (The
bureau had his rental car and hotel receipts.)"

Amid the accusations that have exploded surrounding
the revelations of Wilson, Thielmann and other
high-ranking intelligence officials, comes now again
reports of the infamous Iraq-al Qaeda connection, an
administration claim meant to justify the war. As with
the Niger forgery, however, it is too easily revealed
to be utterly phony.

It reeks of desperation. This administration is
learning a lesson that came to Presidents Nixon and
Johnson with bitter tears: Scapegoat the CIA at your
mortal peril.

There are many who believe that blaming George W. Bush
for the errors and gross behavior of his
administration is tantamount to blaming Mickey Mouse
for mistakes made by Disney. There is a great deal of
truth to this. Groups like Rumsfeld's 'Cabal,' and the
right-wing think tanks so closely associated to the
creation of administration foreign policy, are very
much more in control of matters than Bush.

Yet Bush knew the facts of the matter. He allowed CIA
Director Tenet to lie to Congress with his bare face
hanging out in order to get that body to vote for war.
He knew the facts and lied himself, on countless
occasions, to an American people who have been loyally
supporting him, even as he beats them over the head
with the image of collapsing towers and massive death
to stoke their fear and dread for his own purposes. In
doing these things, he consigned 212 American soldiers
to death, along with thousands of innocent bystanders
in Iraq. Given the current circumstances, there will
be more dead to come.

There is no "The President wasn't told" justification
available here, no Iran/Contra loophole. He knew. He
lied. His people knew. They lied. Death knows no
political affiliation, and a bloody lie is a bloody
lie is a bloody lie. The time has come for Congress to
fulfill their constitutional duties in this matter, to
defend the nation and the soldiers who live and die in
her service. The definition of 'is' has flown right
out the window. This 'is' a crime. George W. Bush lied
to the people, and lied to Congress. There are a lot
of people dead because of it.

One Congresswoman, Democratic Representative Jan
Schakowsky of Illinois, released a statement on July 8
that cuts right to the heart of the matter:

"After months of denials, President Bush has finally
admitted that he misled the American public during his
State of the Union address when he claimed that Iraq
attempted to purchase uranium in Africa. That is why
we need an independent commission to determine the
veracity of the other so-called evidence used to
convince the American people that war with Iraq was
unavoidable.

"It is not enough for the White House to issue a
statement saying that President Bush should not have
used that piece of intelligence in his State of the
Union address at a time when he was trying to convince
the American people that invading Iraq was in our
national security interests. Did the president know
then what he says he only knows now? If not, why not,
since that information was available at the highest
level.

"What else did the Bush Administration lie about? What
other faulty information did Administration officials,
including President Bush, tell the American people and
the world? Did the Bush Administration knowingly
deceive us and manufacture intelligence in order to
build public support for the invasion of Iraq? Did
Iraq really pose an imminent threat to our nation?
These questions must be answered. The American people
deserve to know the full truth."

The voice of Rep. Schakowsky must be followed by
others both within and without the majority. If
nothing is done about this, American justice is a sad,
sorry, feeble joke.

William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. He
is a New York Times best-selling author of two books -
"War On Iraq" (with Scott Ritter) available now from
Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence,"
now available at http://www.silenceissedition.com/
from Pluto Press. William is a contributing writer for
Liberal Slant. He is on the writing staff at
www.truthout.com where this article was also published
at: http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/071103A.shtml on
July 11. You can E-mail William at: w_pitt@hotmail.com

Posted by richard at July 12, 2003 12:41 PM