Ilana Mercer, June 11, 2003

At issue here are Bush’s high crimes—not misdemeanors—that make Watergate and the Iran Contra, much less Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes, pale in comparison ~ilana

I don’t give a tinker’s toss what’s in Hillary’s book. For this column, I haven’t even googled the title of the tome that is the talk of the town. One of the reasons for my apathy is that Hillary is intellectually uninteresting. This solemn commissar’s most “interesting” idea has been to recommend that we look to North Korea and Cuba for hints on health-care reform! The senator’s other contribution to undermining individual rights and responsibilities is the clannish and communistic, “It Takes a Village.”


Today’s leading contender for contempt, however, is not Hillary, but President Bush and his deceiving administration.


At issue here are high crimes—not misdemeanors—that make Watergate and the Iran Contra, much less Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes, pale in comparison. But to watch the debate, elevated to operatic levels by neoconservative opinion and policy makers, one gets the impression that whether Hillary really loves Bill or whether he caught her off guard are the defining moral questions of the day.


Here’s the nub and the rub: Smart people know that truth is immutable and objectively ascertainable. They know that, while a lie is a lie, some lies are face-saving understandable fibs, while others are deadly and dreadful breaches and infractions.


Bush’s lies about the war on Iraq were the latter.


Bush acted solo to obstruct the very checks and balances put in place to ensure that a measure of parliamentary representation, for what it’s worth, ensued. Yet he continues to equate his will to war with the will of the bamboozled American people.


The few remaining honest experts awoke recently to the fact that the two burned-out trucks were not where the Iraqi Einsatzgrüppen (mobile, murdering Nazi units) plotted mayhem. But Bush didn’t care. At the very same time, he was telling the troops that these trucks were without a doubt “mobile biological weapons facilities,” a lie he repeated to Vladimir Putin.


Having gotten away with so many lies, Bush now lies recklessly.


Its own experts told the administration that those “aluminum tubes” Iraq imported had nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Yet Pinocchio Powell, his president, and the vice president continued to spread the canard well after the lies were exposed, even repeating of late the fraudulent allegation that Iraq transacted with Niger to procure uranium.


I had read through the Blix and ElBaradei weapons-inspection reports. Unlike most conservatives, I was able to discern this was not the time for a red-herring debate about the U.N.’s undisputed illegitimacy. Required here was a rational assessment as to whether two stodgy career bureaucrats, accompanied by many scientists, were doing their routine jobs.


Their information agreed with the information of other veteran weapons inspectors, with independent international experts, with the important (“old”) European nations, and with the general thrust of our own intelligence community. To the sober mind, the Blix-ElBaradei reports were as bland as they were balanced. Having scoured thousands of kilometers in only three months, the men had found no evidence in Iraq of renewed attempts to produce Weapons of Mass Destruction.


Our military’s findings, to date, concur.


Contrast the many diverse voices, working to resolve the matter peacefully, with an administration that wanted nothing other than to go to war. Still less convincing were the flaccid, foolish and buffoon-like media, standing firm behind the administration. Their reports on WMD were almost always backed by “unnamed sources close to the administration” (read: high-stake Iraqi defectors and exiles), a journalistic no-no. Their uncritical, shoddy, embed evidence consisted of unverified accounts of overactive Geiger counters, and nondescript footage of rusty vats. No weaponized chemicals and no dispersing systems were found.


I saw no evidence, moreover, that the intelligence community truly backed Mr. Bush’s wild claims. On the contrary, no sooner did the CIA’s chief George Tenet refute the Iraq/al-Qaida link than the Bush war momentum veered sharply in the WMD direction. The intelligence documents available at the time on government websites echoed the now hotly debated Defense Intelligence Agency’s report issued in September 2002. Peppered with conjecture like “Iraq probably” and “could foreseeable,” they entailed no hard evidence of WMD.


The relentless and erratic nature of Bush’s war impetus was suspicious in itself. From the moment he decided to go to war, it was obvious to the keen observer that he was unstoppable. The information he cited to justify the madness was never phrased in a tentative way, as any amount of sane, truth-seeking caution would have required. It was always referred to as irrefutable. Again, this suggested the working of an unreasonable mind.


The president never wavered. However, confronted at last with controversy, he has now, for the first time, lowered his tone to claim there was only “a program of WMD.” Does he mean there might not have been actual WMD, but just a plan on paper?


The justification of last resort now animating the nation, thanks to the propagandists, is addressed by the Future of Freedom Foundation’s Sheldon Richman: “There is no warrant in the U.S. Constitution for the president of the United States to launch a war in order to liberate people from a brutal government.” Unless, of course, you join liberals in adopting the odious doctrine of a “living Constitution,” as the conservatives have clearly done.



June 11, 2003

CATEGORIES: Anti-War, Bush, Constitution, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, UN, War, WMD