Richard Cohen is trying to jump on the “Bush lied!” bandwagon, and only manages to fall off on his ass by recycling a bunch of made-up charges. It’s ironic that he’s lying when he accuses the Bush Administration of lying about not lying. If that’s enough to make one’s head spin, the mendacity of his piece is even more ridiculous.
In one of the most intellectually incoherent major speeches ever delivered by a minor president, George W. Bush last week blamed “some Democrats and anti-war critics” for changing their minds about the war in Iraq and now saying they were deceived. “It is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began,” the president said. Yes, sir, but it is even more deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how history was rewritten in the first place.
Intellectually incoherent? How about “I voted for the war before I voted against it”? The whole Democratic strategy in regards to Iraq is incoherent: Saddam was a threat, nope he wasn’t. All the evidence says he’s a threat. no now it doesn’t and we never saw the real intelligence. Bush is an idiot, oh but we were so dumb as to never question his assertions. The Democratic Party has changed direction more time than a tennis ball at Wimbledon.
It is the failure to acknowledge this — not merely that mistakes were made — that is so troubling about Bush and others in his administration. Yes, the president is right: Foreign intelligence services also thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Gee, so they lied too? Of did Bush magically con the world into believing Hussein was a threat with his magical pixy dust?
Yes, he is right that members of Congress drew the same conclusion — although none of them saw the raw intelligence that the White House did.
Which, again, is a deeply stupid argument. Only a few members of Congress even bothered to read past the 5-page Executive Summary of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Only 6 Senators bothered to even read the full document. It’s hard for the Democrats to argue that they didn’t have the intelligence when they couldn’t even be bothered to read what was presented to them.
Furthermore, why the hell couldn’t the Democrats have used that time-honored tool of intelligence investigation and picked up the damn phone. It’s not like a sitting member of Congress, especially someone who has oversight into intelligence and the required security clearances to go with it, couldn’t have called up George Tenet’s office and asked “is this a pile of BS?” In fact, I’m guessing several of them did exactly that and Tenet told him the same thing he told the President – it was a “slam dunk” case that Saddam had WMDs.
The argument that the Democrats just didn’t have access to the intelligence is pure BS. There’s nothing that would have prevented the Democrats from going directly to the sources. They could have called CIA analysts into Congress under oath to prevent their findings. Even the NIE that several Democratic Senators had access to was a balanced assessment of the intelligence containing several caveats about the sources of information.
The Democrats simply can’t hide from the fact that they shared in the same assumptions about Iraq’s WMDs that everyone else did. Assumptions that were reasonable and based upon Hussein’s past history. Assumptions that even Cohen admits was shared by foreign intelligence services as well as ours.
And he is right, too, that Saddam Hussein had simply ignored more than a dozen U.N. resolutions demanding that he reopen his country to arms inspectors. When it came to U.N. resolutions, Saddam was notoriously hard of hearing.
And furthermore, even Hans Blix admitted that Hussein was not cooperating on the terms of Resolution 1441. In order to have a credible threat that would force Hussein to admit the inspectors, the US had to put pressure on Hussein. However, US troops couldn’t stay in the Gulf forever, and having masses of US troops in range of potential Iraq attacks was not tenable. There had to be a drop-dead date for Hussein to comply. That would have been January of 2003 had Tony Blair not asked for more time to appeal to the UN for a final resolution authorizing force. That resolution was put down by Dominique de Villepin before the Iraqis could even comment on it.
We can endlessly debate the facts of the Iraq War — and we will. More important, though, is the mind-set of those in the administration, from the president on down, who had those facts — or, as we shall see, none at all — and mangled them in the cause of war with Iraq. For example, the insistence that Saddam was somehow linked to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — a leitmotif of Bush administration geopolitical fantasy — tells you much more than whether this or that fact was right. It tells you that to Bush and his people, the facts did not matter.
Except again, Cohen is lying. The Bush Administration never made that claim. In fact, they repeatedly denied it in no uncertain terms. Apparently to Cohen, the facts don’t matter.
It did not matter that Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 terrorists, never met with Iraqis in Prague, as high-level Bush people claimed.
Except again, Cohen’s stretching the truth. The only evidence that suggests that Atta was not in Prague is the fact that his cell phone was used in Florida during that time. We do know that Atta was in Prague previously, that he did not have a proper visa and never left the Prague airport. The idea that the Prague Connection has somehow been totally debunked is completely and utterly untrue. Granted, it hasn’t been proven either, but to accuse the Bush Administration of lying on this matter only reflects how Cohen’s selective interpretation of the evidence shows his inability to get the facts straight.
It did not matter that Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was finding no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.
El-Baradei couldn’t find cheese in Wisconsin.
Again, the Duelfer Reportfound the exact opposite. After the first Gulf War, Saddam did decide to significantly scale back nuclear research – however, once the sanctions regime collapsed, he had every intention and ability to restart those program on an active basis, a finding that is consistent with the ISG’s findings on chemical and biological weapons as well.
None of that mattered to Vice President Dick Cheney, a fibber without peer in the realm, who warned of a “reconstituted” nuclear weapons program, promoted the nonexistent Prague meeting and went after legitimate critics with a zealousness that Tony Soprano would have admired: “We will not hesitate to discredit you,” Cheney told ElBaradei and Hans Blix, the other important U.N. inspector. ElBaradei recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. Cheney’s gonna have to wait for his.
Except both El-Baradei, despite the political posturing of the Nobel Committee, and Blix are both laughingstocks. Their repeated inability to prevent and monitor the proliferation of nuclear weapons from Libya to Pakistan to North Korea to Iran indicates just how effective they really are.
Nobody has been repudiated by Bush for incompetence and dishonesty regarding Iraq. Instead, some — former CIA Director George “Slam Dunk” Tenet comes to mind — have received presidential medals. What’s more, there’s evidence aplenty that the sloppy thinking, false analogies and bad history that led to the Iraq War remain the cultural style of the White House. The president’s recent speech, for instance, conflates all sorts of terrorist incidents — from Israel to Chechnya — neglecting that they are specific to their regions and have nothing to do with al Qaeda. Every bombing somehow becomes an attack on Western values “because we stand for democracy and peace.” Oh stop it!
Again, Cohen can’t get his facts straight. Bin Laden himself has mentioned all those conflicts in his writings and statements. It is very well known that al-Qaeda has connections to Chechen terrorists and al-Qaeda fighters trained in Afghanistan have gone to fight in Chechnya. A Pakistani group linked to al-Qaeda was responsible for the suicide bombing of two Russian aircraft in a simultaneous multiple-bomb attack – the signature style of al-Qaeda. Either Cohen is completely ignorant of these connections, or he’s deliberately lying. Either way it indicates the quality of his argument.
It would be nice, fitting and pretty close to sexually exciting if Bush somehow acknowledged his mistakes and said he had learned from them.
I think I threw up a bit in my mouth after reading that. Then again, such blatantly pathological behavior is one of the symptoms of severe Bush Derangement Syndrome.
But more important — far more important — is what this would mean for the conduct of foreign policy from here on out. Repeatedly in his speech, Bush mentioned Syria, Iran and North Korea — Syria above all. If push comes to shove there, it would be nice to have absolute confidence in American intelligence and the case for possibly widening the war. If we are to go to the mat with North Korea or the increasingly alarming Iran, then, once again, it would be wonderful to have the confidence we once had in the intelligence community — as imparted to us by our president. Is there or is there not a threatening nuclear weapons program on the horizon?
Yes, which is why Porter Goss has spent the last few months cleaning house at the CIA – getting rid of the bureaucrats who have actively gutted our intelligence capabilities for the last few decades. As a further irony, it was people like Sen. Kerry and the Church Commission whose horrendously misguided rules have systematically destroyed our human intelligence systems and left us with a system of intelligence gathering that is completely unfit for dealing with the threat of terrorism. Thankfully, those responsible for the gutting of American intelligence aren’t the ones running the White House.
At the moment, no one can have confidence in the Bush administration. It has shown itself inept in the run-up to the war and the conduct of it since. Almost three years into the war, the world is not safer, the Middle East is less stable and Americans and others die for a mission that is not what it once was and cannot be what it now is called: a fight for democracy. It would be nice, as well as important, to know how we got into this mess — nice for us, important for the president. It wasn’t that he had the wrong facts. It was that the right ones didn’t matter.
Cohen’s stream of lies reaches its apex here – what the hell does Cohen mean that the fight in Iraq is not about democracy? Iraq has had two democratic elections. It has a constitution. It will have another round of elections in December. We’re fighting an enemy that wants to put an end to that.
Make no mistake, this has little to do with Iraq and everything about Cohen’s self-rightous attempts to justify his own contempt for George W. Bush. He and the rest of the left would gladly sell out the people of Iraq and our own troops if it meant achieving their pissant political end of taking down George W. Bush. Cohen’s mendacious distortion of the evidence is just a further example of what both the President and the Vice President are talking about: the Democratic left is trying to rewrite history to serve their own political ends.
The facts are clear: the world saw Hussein as a threat. The Democrats in Congress agreed with those assessments and made statements that quite clearly state their belief that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. They had every opportunity to investigate the evidence in-depth but did not do so. That evidence turned out to have been mostly wrong.
What wasn’t wrong was that Saddam Hussein was a brutal butcher and a tyrant, and that a democratic and free Iraq is in the best interest of world peace and stability. It’s sad that so many would rather fight a political war at home than a war against terrorism and fascism in Iraq. If Cohen and his ilk were around in 1940 and part of the political mainstream, they’d be arguing about what FDR knew about Pearl Harbor while US Marines were dying on the beaches of Iwo Jima. That kind of placing partisanship before country is absolutely inexcusable and a sign of how little the Democratic Party really cares about the goal of winning this war – their was is with Bush, not with terrorism.