L. Neil Smith's
Number 232, August 3, 2003


The Shame on No Conservative Shame
by Todd Andrew Barnett

Special to TLE

If CIA Director George Tenet's recent confession of the agency's approval of the erroneous statement used by President Bush for his January 28th State of the Union Address doesn't meet the requirements for a public condemnation from the American people, I don't know what will. However, considering that many conservative collectivists have no shame on this matter, as evidenced by statements coming from the Bush administration and conservative properties like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Debbie Schlussel, it should be obvious to any rational, free-thinking individual that they are willing to bury this entire matter as if it never happened. And this is coming from a group of so-called "strict constitutionalists" who claim that Bush's election to the White House has brought "integrity" and "ethics" back into the White House.

Let's examine the uproarious 16-word statement that has caught a great deal of attention of the press in recent days: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This statement was used in Bush's speech.

But if one took a further look at the statement, one would realize that the statement is actually carefully constructed to be a half-truth. A half-truth is a statement that is technically true but is crafted to lull people into accepting a false impression.

How is Bush's statement a half-truth, you ask? It's quite simple: prior to the televised speech, the federal government received warnings which urged the administration not to trust the reports because they were a forgery. Never mind the fact that the White House recently acknowledged that the statement was a complete fabrication that is, after reports were published, indicating that Tenet had admitted that the documents were false. I suppose that, in the eyes of many Bush supporters, it doesn't matter that Tenet admitted that the inclusion of the statement in the speech "was a mistake."

Not surprisingly, Bush and his stalwarts knew that the documents were fraudulent, but in order to escape accountability as well as the knowledge of their deception, they decided to assign blame to Tenet in case the entire ruckus blew up in their faces. But it wouldn't stop there.

Recall Condoleeza Rice's appearance on Fox News Sunday. Standing before the audience, Rice said, "The statement that (Bush) made was indeed accurate. The British government did say that. Not only was the statement accurate, there were statements of this kind in the National Intelligence Estimate." If that is the case, then why did Tenet "take the blame" before the cameras and reporters by stating that the uranium yellowcake ore statement should not have been included in the president's speech? Why did Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld attempt to snooker the American people into an immediate media circus by commenting that Bush's assertion was not accurate and then saying that it was after all?

The answer, although not obvious to the American people, is this—it was a desperate attempt to initiate damage control, due to the scathing nature of the controversy. It is typical of one's government to eliminate dissension and skepticism by lulling people into accepting their version of the truth. This serves both as a great advantage to the government and a great disadvantage to the constituency.

At the same time Joseph C. Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, was dispatched to Niger by the CIA under the guidance of Vice President Dick Cheney to conduct an official investigation of the reports of the purported uranium yellowcake ore sale transaction between Niger and Iraq. The reason for this inquiry was largely due to Cheney's interest in an intelligence report about Iraq's attempt to purchase the ore.

In an editorial he published in the June 6th edition of the New York Times, Wilson wrote, "Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." Then he writes, "I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction took place." Wow! That's a powerful, scathing indictment of the administration's claims.

Wilson even notes that he met with U.S. Ambassador to Niger Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick who was not surprised with his findings (she had been aware of the allegations of the attempted uranium purchase for some time) and had rebutted the rumor when she submitted her reports to Washington. He then writes, "In early March [2002], I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the C.I.A. I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Bureau. There was nothing secret or earth-shattering in my report, just as there was nothing secret about my trip."

When he heard that Prime Minister Tony Blair referred to the purported transaction six months later and Bush had done the same ten months later, he was stunned. "If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why)," said Wilson. "If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses."

In response to the editorial, federal officials claimed that the White House never received his written conclusions. But are we really supposed to believe that? How could a copy of Wilson's report not reach Cheney's desk when the vice president was the one who sent him on that mission in the first place?

The sad truth is that the president embroiled the United States into a war by successfully frightening and lulling Americans into believing that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the nation and to the world. His intent was to scare the people into accepting the great lie of all time—one which states that Hussein had the means and the intent to launch nukes at some American city either now or tomorrow. In order to launch a counterstrike against the Iraqi despot, he had to amass public support for his military invasion and occupation of the country. One way or another he was going to get it, and he got it fast. And he succeeded.

However, the uranium lie wasn't the only thing that Bush used at his disposal. The president had remarked more than once that the International Atomic Energy Agency had stated that Hussein would get his hands on nukes within six months. But the agency denied making such a contention. That surely didn't prevent Bush from repeating it. The rightists would surely jump at the chance of saying that he acted on ignorance if the subject were broached. Should we expect anything to be different?

The administration's failure to find their smoking gun—Iraq's weapons of mass destruction—has proven to be a costly, major embarrassment. Bush supporters, however, are imploring the people to give Bush more time and grant him the benefit of the doubt. However, when one expresses criticisms of bad faith in the presidency, the president's defensive lapdogs condemns them as "politics." Nevertheless, the collectivists should have realized that defenses of their president are just as political as the denunciations.

So why should the president receive the benefit of the doubt? He's lied to the people on this matter twice. Such lies can neither be justified nor explained innocently. Let's not forget that there have been no signs of chemical and biological weapons at all. But the American people have been fooled into going into a war that has led to the deaths of approximately 6,000 innocent Iraqi citizens.

When former President Clinton lied about his foolhardy dalliance with an intern, at least it had nothing to do with national security (although the Republican sharks were sniffing for Democratic blood). But Bush's lies make Clinton look like a Boy Scout in comparison. The unfortunate thing is that conservative collectivists had no shame then, and they have no shame now. And that is a shame indeed.

Copyright © 2003 by Todd Andrew Barnett. All Rights Reserved. Permission to reprint any portion of or the entire article is hereby granted, provided that the author's name and credentials are included.


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