By Warren Mass Published: 2008-06-06 14:24
The Senate Intelligence Committee on June 5 accused President Bush and Vice President Cheney of making exaggerated, unsubstantiated claims that Saddam Hussein had links to al Qaeda in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The committee charged further that the Bush administration used these charges to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Follow this link to the original source: "Senate Panel Finds Iraq Intelligence Exaggerations"
"The president and his advisers undertook a relentless public campaign in the aftermath of the attacks to use the war against Al Qaeda as a justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein," said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D.-W.Va.) in a statement accompanying the committee's report.
The 171-page report cited several instances where the Bush administration issued policy statements that were either unsupported by intelligence or misrepresented the truth, including suggestions that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had provided the al Qaeda terrorist network with weapons training and that one of the 9-11 hijackers had met an Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague in 2001. Also challenged were statements made by Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and other top administration officials before the invasion alleging the existence of an Iraqi arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
Though the first phase of the committee's inquiry was completed in July 2004, partisan disagreements delayed release of its conclusions, and during that period control of the committee switched from Republican to Democratic leadership. Even now, Republicans on the committee have dissented from some of the report's findings and attached a detailed minority report that cited recognition of Saddam's supposed threat among some Democrats, including Senator Rockefeller.
The minority report, signed by the Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri and three other Republicans, noted: "The report released today was a waste of committee time and resources that should have been spent overseeing the intelligence community."
With the release earlier this week of the administration "insider" exposé What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, the committee report is the second widely publicized document in just three days to charge that support for the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq was based on false information.
As it usually does, the truth will continue to be revealed. Wars are generally not popular endeavors, and those who attempt to make a case to go to war often engage in deception of one sort or another. The easiest way to galvanize public support for war is to goad the intended enemy into firing the first shot, usually by applying insufferable economic pressure, engaging in diplomatic saber-rattling, or both. If the would-be enemy is still reluctant, dangling a carrot before his eyes or deliberately (and obviously) letting down a nation's guard, often does the trick. Think of the sinking of the Lusitania, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the terrorist attacks of September 11. It is not a difficult maneuver to comprehend, as every bratty little brother learns how to taunt an older sibling into smacking him so he can promptly tell Mom!
Writer James Perloff observed this phenomenon in his article on Pearl Harbor, "Hawaii was surprised; Washington was not" in The New American magazine for December 8, 1986:
- In 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. Although the explosion has never been satisfactorily explained, "Remember the Maine" became the rallying cry that spurred us into the Spanish-American War.
- In 1915, a German submarine torpedoed the British passenger ship Lusitania, and 128 Americans perished. In the United States, the incident was used to fan anti-German sentiment and to beat war drums. What the American public did not know was that the Germans sunk the Lusitania because it had in its hold six million rounds of ammunition bound for England. Subsequent official inquiries suppressed this fact, and Woodrow Wilson even ordered the ship's manifest to be sealed and placed in U.S. Treasury archives.It is instructive to note that when the ship went down, Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and Winston Churchill was head of the British Admiralty. Before the incident, Churchill had ordered a study to determine the political impact if an ocean liner were sunk with Americans on board. According to Commander Joseph Kenworthy, then in British Naval Intelligence, "The Lusitania was sent at considerably reduced speed into an area where a U-boat was known to be waiting and with her escorts withdrawn." Some 25 years later, FDR and Churchill would again be principals during the engineering of an Anglo-American war effort. See Colin Simpson's book, The Lusitania (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972).
Thus Pearl Harbor lies in a broad context of "Look what they've done to us" scenarios.
- In 1964, an alleged attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin was used by President Lyndon Johnson to secure authority from Congress to escalate the Vietnam War. The incident was long steeped in suspicion and controversy.
The story of how the Roosevelt Administration first squeezed Japan economically by imposing a trade embargo on Japan, closed the Panama Canal to her shipping, and froze her assets in America; then applied diplomatic pressure on the Asian nation by implying military threats if Tokyo did not change its Pacific policies and also demanding — as prerequisites to resumed trade — that Japan withdraw all her troops from both China and Indochina, and end her Tripartite Treaty with Germany and Italy; and then not only set up our Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor as sitting ducks, but failed to warn Hawaii's military commanders of the impending attack, has been the subject of many credible documentaries and books.
In all likelihood, as reports about our "War on Terror" and subsequent invasion of Iraq continue to come out, it will be revealed that the Clinton and Bush administrations' security lapses, and the latter's failure to stop the 9-11 terrorists, will rank right up there on the treachery meter with the Roosevelt White House's failure to prevent (or at least warn our commanders about) the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Furthermore, as more and more information about the Bush administration's pretexts for invading Iraq surfaces, we will almost certainly have yet another case of American lives being sacrificed to wage an unnecessary war to further the empire-building ambitions of unscrupulous leaders.
Had the Bush administration been able to wrap up business in Iraq neatly and quickly, the American public would probably be as disinterested in the behind-the-scenes intrigue leading up to it as it has typically been regarding previous wars. But the botched-up and prolonged way that this war has been playing out has given too many people too much time to ask too many questions.
The time for the American people to demand credible answers is long overdue.