Evelyn Pringle July 16, 2004
Bin Laden must be laughing his you know what off. By calling off the hunt in Afghanistan, to launch a preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to the US, Bush not only sabotaged the capture of bin Laden; he destroyed our credibility, and undermined American security at home and abroad.
By grossly overextending our troops, he has lessened our military readiness to respond to a real threat of terror should one arise. Osama bin Laden himself could not have created the disaster in Iraq any better if he had tried.
Here's a political riddle to solve. Who made the following comments and whom did the comments refer to?
* "Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness."
* "A comprehensive strategy for combating the new dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction must include a variety of other measures to contain and prevent the spread of such weapons. We need the cooperation of friends and allies."
* "Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments."
Source: The year 2000 Republican Party Platform.
So just look at what has happened between then and now. The Republican prophets who posted those comments were absolutely correct. Endless missions, back-to-back deployments, inadequate training, no cooperation of friends and allies, blaming the CIA for political misjudgments, and on and on. It all came true all right, but democrats caused none of it.
Bush's so-called war on terror is a miserable failure, any way you look at it. Retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the US Central Command, got it right when he said that by manufacturing a false rationale for war, abandoning traditional allies, propping up and trusting Iraqi exiles, and failing to plan for post-war Iraq, Bush has made the US less secure, instead of safer.
Bush thinks that Iraqi citizens should have welcomed us into the country and thanked us for getting rid of Saddam. Right before the war started, in a March 16, 2003 interview, Cheney said, "I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators."
As we now know, he was dead wrong, that did not happen.
But then why would Iraqis thank us? For what? Saddam may be gone, but innocent Iraqis have suffered the same human rights violations at the hands of the occupying forces that they did while Saddam was in power. In addition to the degradation and inexcusable abuse of prisoners, the deaths of at least 34 Iraqi detainees are currently being investigated.
Iraqis still live in fear of torture every day; in fact probably more so. Incidents of murder, rape, and kidnapping have skyrocketed since the war began. Violent deaths rose from an average of 14 per month in 2002 to 357 a month in 2003.
Come to think about it, I don't hear about any good news coming out of Iraq. Its about 120 degrees over there and they don't even have the basic necessities that they had under Saddam. According to a recent report by the GAO, basic services like water and electricity are still operating at lower levels than they were before the war.
Over the past year, joblessness has doubled. According to the Boston Globe, using recent US data, more than half the workers in the country are either without job or making less than a living wage. Only 1% of Iraq's workforce (7 million people) is involved in reconstruction projects.
Bush and his gang of war profiteers made sure the reconstruction contracts went to US companies, rather than experienced Iraqi firms. Democratic Rep Martin Meehan, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, sees what is going on and explains, how "the American taxpayer is spending billions of dollars on no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton. Not only has this money often been poorly spent or outright wasted, but in many cases it is paying the salaries of foreign workers to do jobs in Iraq that are well within the skill sets of Iraqis," said Meehan.
Again, why in the world would Iraqis thank us?
In the months leading up to the war, Bush told American citizens and Congress, that the US had to wage a preemptive war against Iraq, not only to get rid of Saddam's WMDs, but also because there were links between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden, who is believed to be the mastermind behind 911.
However, the Bush Administration now claims that it never said that Saddam and his WMDs posed an "imminent" threat, and so therefore, Bush cannot be accused of exaggerating the case for war or misleading Congress and the American people.
How soon they forget. Some officials did too use the word "imminent" and others used phrases and words that had the exact same meaning. Yet, during a press conference shortly after the war began, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "Some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used."
Oh really? Is that so? Well, Scott must have a pretty bad memory, because on 2/10/03, he himself used the "I" word when he specifically said, "This is about imminent threat."
He must have also forgotten the statement made by Bush Communications Director Dan Bartlett, on 1/26/03, when he answered, "Well, of course he is," in response to a reporter's direct question, "is Saddam an imminent threat to US interests, either in that part of the world or to Americans right here at home?"
And how could Scott forget the comment made by his predecessor, White House Press Secretary, Ari Fliescher, on 5/7/03? Ari was asked whether or not Iraq was an "imminent threat," and his answer was, "Absolutely."
And how about Bush, himself. Lets do a little review statements made by the star of the war profiteering scheme:
"The Iraqi regime is a threat to any American. ... Iraq is a threat, a real threat." Bush 1/3/03
"Saddam Hussein is a threat to America." Bush 11/3/02
"I see a significant threat to the security of the United States in Iraq." Bush 11/1/02
"There is real threat, in my judgment, a real and dangerous threat to America in Iraq in the form of Saddam Hussein." Bush 10/28/02
"There are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists." Bush 10/7/02
"The Iraqi regime is a threat of unique urgency." Bush 10/2/02
"There's a grave threat in Iraq. There just is." Bush 10/2/02
"This man poses a much graver threat than anybody could have possibly imagined." Bush 9/26/02
And lets review a few of the lines uttered by Chief Cheney over a period of 2 days:
Iraq is "a serious threat to our country, to our friends and to our allies." 1/31/03.
Iraq poses "terrible threats to the civilized world." 1/30/03.
Iraq "threatens the United States of America." 1/30/03
Rumsfeld is really a trip. Here's where he uses statements about 9/11 (peppered with the "I" word), as part of the ploy to scare us into war:
"I would look you in the eye and I would say, go back before September 11 and ask yourself this question: Was the attack that took place on September 11 an imminent threat the month before or two months before or three months before or six months before? When did the attack on September 11 become an imminent threat? Now, transport yourself forward a year, two years or a week or a month...So the question is, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" 11/14/03
Here's where Rumsfeld used the ultimate threat of nuclear weapons (and the "I" word again), to scare us some more, complete with the bogus, and now infamous, line about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa:
"Iraq poses a serious and mounting threat to our country. His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa." 1/30/03.
"Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent - that Saddam is at least 5-7 years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain. And we should be just as concerned about the immediate threat from biological weapons. Iraq has these weapons." 9/18/02.
Here's where Rummy warns us about Saddam being an "immediate threat:"
"No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." 9/19/02
While we're at it, lets take a look back at what Colin Powell said to the world about the threat posed by Saddam and WMDs in his speech before the UN. Colin even brought photos of the evidence to back up his statements.
"My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. I will cite some examples, and these are from human sources."
"We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities."
"Let's look at one. This one is about a weapons munition facility, a facility that holds ammunition at a place called Taji (ph). This is one of about 65 such facilities in Iraq. We know that this one has housed chemical munitions. In fact, this is where the Iraqis recently came up with the additional four chemical weapon shells."
"Here, you see 15 munitions bunkers in yellow and red outlines. The four that are in red squares represent active chemical munitions bunkers."
"Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries."
I would say this to Colin Powell, OK Colin, fair enough. Here's your chance to redeem yourself. For starters, lets see those photos again, and then explain to the world, exactly what happened to those yellow and red bunkers in the photos. And after that, give us the names of all those solid human sources.
Here's where Powell tells the UN all about the ties and meetings between Al Qaida, Osama and Saddam, that according to Colin, had been going on for years.
"Going back to the early and mid-1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, an Al Qaida source tells us that Saddam and bin Laden reached an understanding that Al Qaida would no longer support activities against Baghdad. Early Al Qaida ties were forged by secret, high-level intelligence service contacts with Al Qaida, secret Iraqi intelligence high-level contacts with Al Qaida."
"We know members of both organizations met repeatedly (oh yea? How about dates and locations), and have met at least eight times at very senior levels since the early 1990s. In 1996, a foreign security service tells us, that bin Laden met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Khartoum, and later met the director of the Iraqi intelligence service."
"Saddam became more interested as he saw Al Qaida's appalling attacks. A detained Al Qaida member tells us that Saddam was more willing to assist Al Qaida after the 1998 bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Saddam was also impressed by Al Qaida's attacks on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000."
OK Colin, how about introducing us to this "detained" Al Qaida member that gave you all this info. That should be easy enough.
Here's where he makes it sound like the Iraqis, Al Qaida, Saddam and Osama were best buddies, even houseguests of one another, supposedly backed by yet another "human source." Who by the way, I am eager to meet.
"Iraqis continued to visit bin Laden in his new home in Afghanistan. A senior defector, one of Saddam's former intelligence chiefs in Europe, says Saddam sent his agents to Afghanistan sometime in the mid-1990s to provide training to Al Qaida members on document forgery."
Gosh, do you think that they had tea together in Osama's new cave?
Funny thing, the only forgeries I've ever heard about are the ones used by Bush and his gang of thugs in their reports to Congress and the UN. What were they again? A student's term paper and some documents purporting to show that Saddam was seeking uranium from Africa? I think that's right. As I recall, they were easily identified as fakes. Maybe the Bush gang should enroll in the forgery training camp in Afghanistan.
Get this, here's Colin with another photo. This one shows a poison and explosive training camp, specifically located in northeastern Iraq.
"You see a picture of this camp. The network is teaching its operatives how to produce ricin and other poisons. Let me remind you how ricin works. Less than a pinch--image a pinch of salt--less than a pinch of ricin, eating just this amount in your food, would cause shock followed by circulatory failure. Death comes within 72 hours and there is no antidote, there is no cure. It is fatal."
OK Colin, lets see that photo again, and then tell us what happened to this dangerous chemical training camp, with its pinches of deadly ricin, after it apparently disappeared off the face of the earth.
As long as we're parsing words, lets take a closer look at a few of the other words they used to convince us that we needed to go to war. As noted above, they did use the "I" word, but beyond that, they claim the other words used did not mean "imminent."
Well I beg to differ. They described the threat of Saddam's and his WMDs as: "mortal," "urgent," "immediate", "serious and mounting", "unique," and they even claimed that Iraq was actively seeking to "strike the United States with weapons of mass destruction."
Now I know that the Bush gang is convinced that we lowly citizens are all really stupid, but can't they give us just a little more credit? I think there are at least a few Americans out here who might know the meaning of some of those words.
While we're on the subject of lies, how about the one where they said the war would be a cakewalk. In February 2003, Rumsfeld predicted that the war "could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." That was either a pipe dream or pure BS. I say BS.
And what about the costs? Every last one of them lied to Congress and taxpayers about what the war would cost. On April 23, 2003, Andrew Natsios, head of the US Agency for International Development, gave a televised interview and outlined the costs to the taxpayers of rebuilding Iraq, "the American part of this will be $1.7 billion," he said. "We have no plans for any further-on funding for this."
That estimate turned out to be a little bit off -- by about $149 billion --- so far.
A March 2003 report by the White House Office of Management and Budget said: "Iraq will not require sustained aid." In testimony to Congress on March 27, 2003, Wolfowitz said Iraq "can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon." I wonder when will relatively soon is going to get here.
And remember when they all said that Iraqi oil would pay for its reconstruction? What a joke. In 2003 oil production dropped to 1.33 million barrels a day, from 2.04 million in 2002.
The fact is, Bush and his gang of chickenhawks lied to Congress, to taxpayers, and to the world, in order to wage an illegal war. The whole damn bunch should be tried as war criminals.
John Kerry Did Not Vote to Go to War
Bush is always saying Kerry voted for the war. Let's get one thing straight once and for all. He did not vote to go to war. He voted for a resolution that gave Bush the authority to use force as a last resort, if it became absolutely necessary to protect us from an imminent threat from WMDs (and yes he used the "I" word many times).
If Kerry is guilty of anything, its of being gullible enough to believe the lies told by the President of the United State, and his gang of fellow liars, on the world stage.
In a speech on the Senate Floor on the day of the vote, Kerry made it clear that he was not voting to go to war when he said, "approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable." It means "America speaks with one voice."
Kerry had no reason to think Bush was set to go to war. As he pointed out, any threat posed by Saddam and his WMDs, was "not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing ... suggests it is imminent. None of our intelligence reports suggest that he is about to launch an attack," Kerry said. "Every nation has the right to act preemptively, if it faces an imminent and grave threat, for its self-defense ... The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet."
Kerry said that he would only agree to go to war for one reason, to rid Saddam of WMDs. He emphatically warned Bush that if he did take the country to war for any other reason than an imminent threat to the US by Saddam and his WMDs, that he would be the first to speak out and demand that Bush be held accountable.
As we know now, there never were any WMDs and so therefore, as Kerry made clear, he would have never voted to go to war.
He clarified what his vote meant when he said, "let me be clear, the vote I will give ... is for one reason and one reason only: To disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, if we cannot accomplish that objective through new, tough weapons inspections in joint concert with our allies," he said.
"In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments ... to work with the United Nations ... to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out."
"If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent--and I emphasize "imminent"--threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs."
In my opinion, the day for demanding accountability from Bush has long passed. It should have happened the day he took the country to war in Iraq. That said, I look forward to watching the first Bush-Kerry debate when Kerry will have the opportunity to demand accountability from that greedy thug living in the WH illegally.
Kerry warned us about what would happen if Bush took us to war without just cause, and without our allies. He speech on the Senate floor on the day of the vote almost seems prophetic in hindsight. Here are a few excerpts from his October 9, 2002 Senate speech:
"The President needs to give the American people a fairer and fuller, clearer understanding of the magnitude and long-term financial cost of that effort."
"The international community's support will be critical because we will not be able to rebuild Iraq single-handedly. We will lack the credibility and the expertise and the capacity."
"The administration may not be in the habit of building coalitions, but that is what they need to do. ... If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed."
Everything Kerry said would happen, happened. The skyrocketing costs of the war, both in lives lost, and tax dollars spent blow Americans away. The country was not prepared to sustain such a drastic drain on its resources. Nor were we prepared for the hatred that has been directed at Americans, not only in Iraq, but also throughout the Middle East.
Just like Kerry predicted, the region has become a magnet for terrorists that hate Americans. And he's right; Saddam's capture provides no consolation when weighed against the mess Bush got us into.
A scheme that turned Iraq into a boomtown for Bush and his fellow war profiteers, has turned into a never-ending nightmare for the rest of the country. First thing we see each morning, when we turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper, is the number of soldiers killed or injured the day before. And there is no end in sight.
John Kerry bears no responsibility whatsoever for the war in Iraq. If he had been president we never would have ended up there to begin with. But as it stands now, Kerry will be the one stuck with cleaning up the mess when he inherits it come November.