Maybe I should be charitable today. Maybe instead of the word "lies" in my headline, I should just say that Stephen Hadley was sent out by the Bushies to "mislead" us again, to "misdirect" the MSM away from the Bush Administration lies about Iraq.
But stay focused here, Mr. & Ms. MSM, especially now that you're supposedly ready to stand up to George & Dick & Karl at last. Don't go Judy Miller on us again. Keep your eyes on the prize.
The question on the table is not whether Bill Clinton was wrong about WMDs in Iraq; nor is the question whether John Kerry or Harry Reid or other top Dems are hypocrites for supporting the war then and criticizing it now.
The question on the table is whether the Bush Administration lied, distorted, exaggerated, and hyped the supposedly "grave and gathering danger" of Iraq in the run-up to the war.
The question on the table is whether the Bush Administration first decided to go to war--without telling America--and then cherry-picked existing intelligence while Cheney muscled and pressured analysts to "find" new "intelligence" by playing up rumors and downplaying objections.
The question on the table is whether Bush & Cheney & Rice & the WHIG committed impeachable offenses, misleading and tricking their fellow citizens into a war of choice, which they falsely portrayed as a war of necessity.
We already know the answers. That's why the Republicans in Congress keep refusing to investigate the WHIG, or the run-up to the war, or the use of the intelligence by the Bush Administration.
The Downing Street Minutes make it clear that they decided first, then "fixed the facts" later. The top officials of Bush's best allies in this war, the British top brass, meeting with Tony Blair, are quite blunt about:
*the lack of a threat from Iraq ("But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.");
*the U.S. intent to go to war ("military action was now seen as inevitable"; "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD"; "it seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action");
*the cherry-picking and distortion of the intelligence ("the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy");
*the failure to plan for the occupation ("little discussion in Washington of the aftermath");
*the illegality of the planned war ("The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action.");
*the need to get Saddam to overreact to give them more cover for attacking ("The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors.");
*the importance of a ploy to help get the U.N. on board the planned invasion ("We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.")
Indeed, the Downing Street Minutes make it clear that the air war had already--secretly to us, and illegally--been ramped up ("the US had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime"), partly in hopes of causing an actionable incident with Saddam.
Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill, Bush Administration insiders, made it crystal clear that the Bushies were obsessed with Iraq from the beginning, evidence or no evidence.
Even slogging through the Washington Post's front-page puffery of Bob Woodward's hagiography of Bush after 9-11 still made it obvious that the Administration was getting ready to go to war--which is one of the many reasons why the Post's refusal to take the antiwar side seriously in the run-up to the war was so infuriating--the Post poohbahs already knew we were right about their intent to go to war, and still refused to give us any serious ink.
We already know that the PNAC put its plans to invade and occupy Iraq at the center of its strategy for wielding power in the Middle East--and has said so openly for most of a decade. In fact, Scooter, Wolfie, & Dick made a very similar case to Poppy Bush back in the fall of 1992 (the plan got bad reviews at the time--ah, the good old days...)!
We already know that George W. Bush was openly discussing his plans to invade a weak country like Iraq while he was still Governor of Texas--a discussion which freaked out the Bushies so much when they read the early drafts that they fired George W's first biographer and replaced him with leading in-house propagandist Karen Hughes. (By the way, why aren't W's comments more of a scandal? This biographer was a family friend, for crying out loud. And he says Bush and his buddies were already talking about the Thatcher model--invade a small country, become overwhelmingly popular, and then pass all your domestic policies--e.g., tax cuts for the rich...In detective shows, this is known as "motive"...)
As Hood-Winked author John Prados concludes: "Worst of all, President Bush directly participated in the deception, the effect of which was to initiate a war of aggression."
Prados reminds us: "Vice President Dick Cheney planned and carried out the hoodwinking of America...The vice president, finally, attempted to prevent the hoodwinking from unraveling after the fact, continuing to allege major items in the bill of particulars of the deception long after they had been discredited."
We know that that George W. Bush promised a second U.N. vote before he went to war. On page 263 of Hood-Winked, Prados records Bush's promise: "A reporter asked President Bush if he would go for a vote even if the United States lacked enough commitments to ensure passage. 'No matter what the whip count is, ' George Bush shot back, 'we're calling for the vote'." Not.
I could go on, since W told us they had found the WMDs, after Rumsfeld told us we knew where they were, after Bush, Cheney, and Rice all hyped the nuclear threat using language crafted by nuclear weapons expert Mary Matalin, while Dick Cheney was still publicly pushing the Iraq + al Qaeda story even after Bush had publicly disavowed it.
But others have already compiled such comprehensive lists of lies and distortions. See here and here and here , for instance.
John Prados makes another point, relevant to Hadley's misdirection ploy yesterday: "Rice also bears a measure of responsibility in the failures of the Iraq occupation, even prior to the fall of 2003 when President Bush gave her special responsibility in this area, in that the security adviser's deputy (Stephen Hadley) had charge of the interagency committee planning and implementing the effort, an effort Dr. Rice should have been monitoring all along." Gee.
So let's not fall into this GOP misdirection trap. Our job is not to defend Clinton, or Kerry, or anyone else who made the mistake of supporting this war at the beginning. Our job is to keep the focus on the liars and misleaders and hype artists who violated international law, the Geneva Convention, our treaties, our obligations to the U.N., the U.S. Constitution, and the founding spirit of America to choose to go to war against a basically unarmed nation that was not threatening us.
Don't forget: despite their well-deserved reputation for wimpiness, most elected Democrats actually voted against giving George W. Bush the authorization he demanded in October, 2002, just prior to the mid-term elections.
Let me repeat that: most elected Democrats voted no. Led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the House, and Senator Robert Byrd, 3/5 of House Democrats and 2/5 of Senate Democrats voted no.
Note that the Republican vote on this authorization was 215 to 6 in the House, and 48 to 1 in the Senate.
So the party breakdowns are clear. While too many Democrats caved in to Bush, and while too many still refuse to challenge the Administration directly on its total mishandling of the war, the truth is that the bulk of grassroots Democrats and even the majority of elected Democrats did say no to this Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld war--before it started.
If Stephen Hadley wants to argue about the Bush Administration's lies, he should argue with those who opposed the war from the start, not set up straw men to knock down. Let him argue with Kucinich, or Lee, or Conyers, or Kennedy, or Feingold, or Durbin, or Woolsey, or Waters, or Jackson. The rest is just a smokescreen, to cover up a whitewash for the White House.