Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Thursday, June 26, 2003  

I don’t know about you and your friends, but I and mine enjoy the game "find the lie." It’s an entertaining diversion because proving lies is such hard business (lacking, of course, a blue dress). I mean, even the most confirmed Bushie knows the President lied--they just don’t see anything wrong with it. (I suspect righties play a different game: looking for the latest leftist theory about how the President lied. Then laughing.)

Tuesday, Paul Krugman illustrated this by example: "Consider, for example, what Mr. Bush said in his ‘denial and deception’ speech about the supposed Saddam-Osama link: that there were ‘high-level contacts that go back a decade.’ In fact, intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and an infant Al Qaeda in the early 1990's, but found no good evidence of a continuing relationship."

So reading through the most comprehensive material to date--the New Republic’s recent "Selling of the Iraq War"--I discovered a possible reason why we can’t find the lie. According to the article, the administration exerted enormous pressure on the CIA to produce damning evidence of WMD. And guess what? The CIA provided it.

Graham and Durbin had been demanding for more than a month that the CIA produce an NIE on the Iraqi threat--a summary of the available intelligence, reflecting the judgment of the entire intelligence community--and toward the end of September, it was delivered. Like Tenet's earlier letter, the classified NIE was balanced in its assessments. Graham called on Tenet to produce a declassified version of the report that could guide members in voting on the resolution. Graham and Durbin both hoped the declassified report would rebut the kinds of overheated claims they were hearing from administration spokespeople.

…On October 1, 2002, Tenet produced a declassified NIE. But Graham and Durbin were outraged to find that it omitted the qualifications and countervailing evidence that had characterized the classified version and played up the claims that strengthened the administration's case for war.



My reading of these facts is the possibility that the President (at least, and possibly some key members of the administration) carefully coaxed the CIA to produce damning evidence about Iraq’s WMD he could then cite. Whether or not it was accurate wasn’t germane. No doubt the President assumed, along with everyone else, that the Marines would flush something out during the invasion to justify the claims. And, in the unlikely event that no weapons were found, Bush had deniability: Tenet was his fall guy.

Not that it much matters. Republican apathy about whether the President lied is as deep and wide as the sea: apparently, as long as they’re in power, the health of the union is of no concern. According to the New Republic piece, Republicans are unwilling to call for an investigation. Either they know he’s lying and they’re covering for him, or they don’t much care to find out if he lied.

Yet they somehow managed their duty of Constitutional protection when the last President was in office. Any whiff of wrongdoing, and they were pleased to invoke the health of the republic. Surely the evidence is ample in this case to hold hearings. Congress was too quick to politically target the President in the last administration, and this Congress is wise to be more cautious. But we’re not talking about, say, whether the President engaged in insider trading (for which he might have been investigated--recall Harken), we’re talking about lying about the need to pre-emptively invade a sovereign nation. Partisanism? As long as Republicans refuse to investigate the President’s possible wrongdoing, they better not invoke this argument. This is the most grave form of partisanism.

The nation deserves better.

posted by Jeff | 8:26 AM |
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