January 30, 2004

Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about what's happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they co

A national disgrace...

Paul Krugman: Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about what's happening to America. Other presidents would have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall investigations and give huge contracts to their friends without oversight. They knew, however, that they couldn't. What has gone wrong with our country that allows this president to get away with such things?

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies,
Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0130-04.htm

Published on Friday, January 30, 2004 by the New York
Times
Where's the Apology?
by Paul Krugman

George Bush promised to bring honor and integrity back to the White House. Instead, he got rid of accountability.

Surely even supporters of the Iraq war must be
dismayed by the administration's reaction to David
Kay's recent statements. Iraq, he now admits, didn't
have W.M.D., or even active programs to produce such
weapons. Those much-ridiculed U.N. inspectors were
right. (But Hans Blix appears to have gone down the
memory hole. On Tuesday Mr. Bush declared that the war
was justified under U.N. Resolution 1441, no less
because Saddam "did not let us in.")

So where are the apologies? Where are the
resignations? Where is the investigation of this
intelligence debacle? All we have is bluster from Dick
Cheney, evasive W.M.D.-related-program-activity
language from Mr. Bush and a determined effort to
prevent an independent inquiry.

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure
intelligence failure. I don't buy it: the Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning
report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and
former officials warned of politicized intelligence
during the war buildup. (Yes, the Hutton report gave
Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people
including a majority of the British public, according
to polls regard that report as a whitewash.)

In any case, the point is that a grave mistake was
made, and America's credibility has been badly damaged
and nobody is being held accountable. But that's
standard operating procedure. As far as I can tell,
nobody in the Bush administration has ever paid a
price for being wrong. Instead, people are severely
punished for telling inconvenient truths. And
administration officials have consistently sought to
freeze out, undermine or intimidate anyone who might
try to check up on their performance.

Let's look at three examples. First is the Valerie
Plame affair. When someone in the administration
revealed that Ms. Plame was an undercover C.I.A.
operative, one probable purpose was to intimidate
intelligence professionals. And whatever becomes of
the Justice Department investigation, the White House
has been notably uninterested in finding the culprit.
("We have let the earthmovers roll in over this one,"
a senior White House official told The Financial
Times.)

Then there's the stonewalling about 9/11. First the
administration tried, in defiance of all historical
precedents, to prevent any independent inquiry. Then
it tried to appoint Henry Kissinger, of all people, to
head the investigative panel. Then it obstructed the
commission, denying it access to crucial documents and
testimony. Now, thanks to all the delays and
impediments, the panel's head says it can't deliver
its report by the original May 11 deadline and the
administration is trying to prevent a time extension.

Finally, an important story that has largely evaded
public attention: the effort to prevent oversight of
Iraq spending. Government agencies normally have
independent, strictly nonpartisan inspectors general,
with broad powers to investigate questionable
spending. But the new inspector general's office in
Iraq operates under unique rules that greatly limit
both its powers and its independence.

And the independence of the Pentagon's own inspector
general's office is also in question. Last September,
in a move that should have caused shock waves, the
administration appointed L. Jean Lewis as the office's
chief of staff. Ms. Lewis played a central role in the
Whitewater witch hunt (seven years, $70 million, no
evidence of Clinton wrongdoing); nobody could call her
nonpartisan. So when Mr. Bush's defenders demand hard
proof of profiteering in Iraq as opposed to
extensive circumstantial evidence bear in mind that
the administration has systematically undermined the
power and independence of institutions that might have
provided that proof.

And there are many more examples. These people
politicize everything, from military planning to
scientific assessments. If you're with them, you pay
no penalty for being wrong. If you don't tell them
what they want to hear, you're an enemy, and being
right is no excuse.

Still, the big story isn't about Mr. Bush; it's about
what's happening to America. Other presidents would
have liked to bully the C.I.A., stonewall
investigations and give huge contracts to their
friends without oversight. They knew, however, that
they couldn't. What has gone wrong with our country
that allows this president to get away with such
things?

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Posted by richard at January 30, 2004 01:12 PM