Sunday, May 29, 2005

Letter to New York Times on Downing Street Memo- common sense told us in 2002 that the WMD story was a hoax

Percentage of Americans who think that President Bush is "honest and straightforward" has sunk to all time low of 41%, which means that if the 41% can receive e-mail, the Nigerian Oil scammers can count on doing a repeat business

Dear Editor:

Although much has been made of the explosive revelations of the "Downing Street Memo" released in early May, it is disingenuous of the New York Times, other major media outlets, and members of Congress to claim that they were misled by the Bush Administration's false claims about Iraq's WMD's in 2002 and early 2003. Had the media simply reviewed the statements of Colin Powell in 2001, they would have discovered that Iraq was no threat at all:

"The sanctions, as they are called, have succeeded over the last 10 years.... The Iraqi regime militarily remains fairly weak. ... It has been contained."

Colin Powell testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, May 15, 2001.

And if that wasn't enough, then simple logic should have informed both the news media and political leaders that with midterm elections coming up in November of 2002, the Bush Administration and the Republican Party desperately needed a huge distraction from the growing Enron scandal, the Clinton surplus which had been transformed into a burgeoning deficit in less than 18 months, negative economic indicators, including a net job loss, and the complete failure to locate Osama bin Laden, as President Bush had vowed to do, "dead or alive," shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks. News reports in the Summer of 2002 suggested that the Bush Administration was facing the very real possibility that Democrats would increase their majority in the Senate while Republicans could lose control of the House. If that had happened, then by November of 2002, Mr. Bush would have been transformed into a relatively powerless lame duck with two years still to go in his first, and probably only, term.

My best friend, a staunch Republican, and I both agreed during the summer of 2002 that the alleged military threat to the United States from Iraq was not only wrong, it was laughable. We had the country surrounded by our military, we had no-fly zones in the North and South of Iraq, our Air Force had taken out Iraqi military targets with ease when it suited our purposes, and sanctions were still in place. But we both agreed that it was brilliant politics of the President to follow the hallowed tradition of drumming up a war fever to take the focus away from the disasters over which he had presided- including the question as to how he had failed to anticipate and prevent the 9-11 terror attacks.

By early 2003, when the huge troop buildup made it clear that we were going to invade no matter what, the media and Congress once again missed the most obvious signals that the WMD threat was a hoax: virtually every nation bordering Iraq, including our NATO ally Turkey and the one country against whom Saddam had used chemical weapons- Iran, was urging us not to invade. Turkey went so far as to refuse to allow us to use our bases there as staging areas for a northern front. Had Saddam actually possessed WMD's, the means of delivering them, and the intention to do so, those countries bordering Iraq would have been first in line to be targeted, not the United States half a world away, and they would have been begging us to take out the mad dictator who threatened their citizenry.

Finally, we don't need the Downing Street memo to tell us that the vote to authorize the use of force in October of 2002 was motivated by politics rather than national security. Every Democrat who voted to authorize the use of force, including Senators Kerry and Edwards, knew full well that a vote against it would be highlighted in every campaign commercial in the November 2002 election as well as in the presidential race in 2004. They knew full well that Iraq was no military threat whatsoever to its immediate neighbors, let alone the United States. But the one thing they didn't count on was that President Bush would be foolish enough to use the authorization to launch a pre-emptive war, resulting in an occupation with no exit strategy, American deaths approaching 2,000, and expenditures of over $200 billion while the nation is running $400 billion deficits.

Sad to say, the bogus WMD threats of 2002 were only the beginning, as the Bush Administration gets away with faux town hall meetings on an illusory Social Security 'crisis," a prescription drug bill that suddenly cost hundreds of billions of dollars more shortly after Congress passed the legislation, and an energy bill that pretends that drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge could impact gasoline prices. The official lies will continue until members of the media and our elected officials recognize that our country and our troops in harm's way are more important than their careers.


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