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[casi] Bush Was All Too Willing to Use Emigres' Lies,1,800263.column

Bush Was All Too Willing to Use Emigres' Lies
     Robert Scheer
     Los Angeles Times
     Tuesday 02 September 2003

     American experts urged the White House to be skeptical, but they hit a
stone wall.

     Oops. There are no weapons of mass destruction after all. That's the
emerging consensus of the second team of weapons sleuths commanded by the
U.S. in Iraq, as reported last week in the Los Angeles Times. The
1,400-member Iraq Survey Group found what the first wave of U.S. military
experts and the United Nations inspectors before them discovered - nada.

     Nothing, not a vial of the 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin or the
25,000 liters of anthrax or an ounce of the materials for the 500 tons of
sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent claimed by George W. Bush in his State of
the Union speech as justification for war. Nor any sign of the advanced
nuclear weapons program, a claim based on a now-admitted forgery. Nor has
anyone produced any evidence of ties between the deposed Hussein regime and
the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for 9/11.

     The entire adventure was an immense fraud.
     "We were prisoners of our own beliefs," a senior U.S. weapons expert
who worked with the Iraq Survey Group told The Times. "We said Saddam
Hussein was a master of denial and deception. Then when we couldn't find
anything, we said that proved it, instead of questioning our own

     How distressing that it turns out to be Bush, leader of the world's
greatest democracy, who is the true master of denial and deception, rather
than Hussein, who proved to be a paper tiger. Bush is such a master at
deceiving the American public that even now he is not threatened with the
prospect of impeachment or any serious congressional investigation into the
possibility that he led this nation into war with lies.

     But lie he did, at the very least in the crucial matter of pushing
secret evidence that even a president of his limited experience had to know
was so flimsy as to not be evidence at all. U.S. intelligence officials now
say the administration was lied to by Iraqi émigrés.

     That excuse for the U.S. intelligence failure in Iraq would be
laughable were the circumstances not so appalling. It means Bush ignored all
the cautions of career diplomats and intelligence experts in every branch of
the U.S. government over the unsubstantiated word of Iraqi renegades.

     Clearly, the administration, from the president on down, did not want
expert advice and intelligence that would have undermined its excuse for
invading Iraq. This was a shell game from beginning to end in which
Americans' legitimate fear of terrorism after Sept. 11 was almost
immediately and cynically exploited by the neoconservative gang that runs
U.S. foreign policy.

     American soldiers standing guard over the White House's imperial
ambitions - a new Middle East as linchpin to a new world order - are now
being shot like fish in a barrel.

     Had Congress dared question Bush's claim of an immediate Iraqi military
threat, there would have been no excuse for invasion. But Congress is kept
on a tight leash by Republican leaders, subverting its basic role as a check
and balance on executive power. Shame on congressional Democrats, especially
those running for president, who went along with this disgusting charade.

     In the disarray and dissolution of the U.S. role as leader of the free
world, we sadly witness America's pathetic and isolated effort to rule Iraq
with some of the same émigrés who deceived us with the false information
that led us into a war that suited their ambitions.

     One of those Iraqi exile leaders who clearly misled the U.S., Ahmad
Chalabi, is now a senior figure in the fig-leaf Iraqi shadow government in
U.S.-colonized Baghdad. Chalabi is a fugitive from Jordan, where he was
convicted of major financial fraud, and he has no real base of support in
Iraq. But Bush still backs him, trafficking all too easily with a liar who
tells him what he wants to hear.

     The British public, raised on a higher standard of official honesty, is
properly shocked. Prime Minister Tony Blair is in deep trouble as Parliament
and a high judge are embarked on a truth-finding investigation into their
government's rationale regarding the reasons for war. On Friday, Blair's
media spokesman, Alistair Campbell, accused by the BBC of "sexing up" the
intelligence data used to justify going to war with Iraq, suddenly resigned.

     The Brits don't like being fooled. That's not the case in the United
States, where for too many pundits and politicians, accepting official
mendacity has become a mark of political sophistication.

     More American soldiers have died since Bush declared the war over than
during the war itself. This misadventure is costing nearly $4 billion a
month just for the troops, and billions more for reconstruction by U.S.
companies like Dick Cheney's old firm Halliburton. But too many Americans
betray the proud tradition of an independent citizenry by buying into the
"aw shucks" irresponsibility of a president who daily does a grave injustice
to the awesome obligations of the office that he has sworn - in the name of
God, no less - to uphold.

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