Saturday, October 09, 2004

Axis Of Deception

There is an old reliable principle of Journalism that is applicable outside the profession. If you can find three different, independent sources that tell you the same thing, then you can be fairly confident in reporting on it. For example, if a person tells you he saw something that waddled like a duck, another person said they saw something that had feathers like a duck--and a third person said they heard something that quacked like a duck--then it is a safe bet to report there was a duck in the vicinity.

During the past several months there have been an array of different sources that have confirmed President Bush and his cadre of Neo-Conservative advisors came to power with a "pre-emptive" war agenda for Iraq, no tolerance for dissent , monumental incompetence and absolutely no scruples about being deceitful--if not untruthful-- in pursuit of their goals.

Books by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neal , retired General Wesley Clark , Bush's own terrorist advisor Richard Clark and Bob Woodward (using Bush'sown words)have all intersected at the same conclusion.

A federal appeals court decision and the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision have illuminated the conclusion.

The recent final report by Charles Duelfer, chief inspector and head of the Iraq Survey Group, put the final brush strokes on a shameful portrait of the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. Not only did they find that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction prior to the invasion but had no viable programs to produce them. In fact, the Group found the potential for viable programs started degrading in 1991.

I am reminded of a line from Mark Twain, "The most striking difference between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives." That is particularly apropos to the Bush administration's deceptions and untruths that seem to have a life impervious to mounting evidence that debunks them.

Deception and lies have been occasional room mates with almost every occupant of White House as long as I have been drawing political cartoons. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the U-2 flights over Russia. John Kennedy deceived Cuban exiles about his intentions of support before their ill fated invasion of Cuba. Lyndon Johnson deceived the American public about events in the Gulf of Tonkin . Richard Nixon lied when he said "I am not a crook." Then there was George Herbert Bush's "Read my lips: No new taxes!"

Of course the most trivial ( and shopworn) fib to ever escape the lips of a President was Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

The latest deception is being constructed by all those involved in the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq. The 9-11 Commission's report excoriating the CIA for "flawed" intelligence is the nail upon which all are hanging their hats.

The White House is scapegoating it to get off the hook for their arrogance and hubris in starting an unjustified war. Republicans in Congress embrace it to absolve themselves of shepherding a blank check for war through the legislative process. Congressional Democrats are using it to cover their rear ends for going belly-up in fear of being labeled unpatriotic.

Certainly the CIA should be faulted for its shortcomings. However, the ultimate responsibility for a war that has done nothing to thwart terrorism, rests squarely on the shoulders of the Bush administration and a Congress that acquiesced to it.

It is important to remember that the Bush administration was-- early on --- not satisfied with the ambiguous tone of reports by the CIA and the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. The ombudsman for the intelligence agencies told the Senate Committee that in his thirty years of service he had never seen such pressure to skew information towards a desired conclusion.

So Paul Wolfowitz put together a small cluster of civilian policy advisers and analysts based in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans---through which all intelligence was filtered--- and which (Surprise! Surprise!) produced conclusions more suitable for justifying their "pre-emptive" war agenda. As Wollfowitz put it, the threat of weapons of mass destruction was the best bet for public support.

The results of this folly are the continuing fugitive status of Osama Bin Laden, a substantial increase in terrorists incidents around the world, and an estimated 15 thousand Iraqi civilian deaths---not to mention the loss of more than 1,000 American lives.

Why is it no one asks what happened to Bush's "get him dead or live" pursuit of Bin Laden? Why is it 50% of Americans do not question the wisdom of taking troops out of Afghanistan to march through a "paper tiger" army and depose a two-bit, third world dictator?

In 1998, a satire titled "Wag The Dog" opened in movie theaters around the United Sates. The premise of the film was about a President obsessed with securing his place in history . His advisor (Robert DeNiro) contacts a top Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) and they scheme to fabricate a war (using a Hollywood back lot) against a small country which the President can , then , heroically bring to an end. It is all cleverly played out on television and through the media.

What is interesting are two reviews of the movie.One reviewer said the film was a cynical assertion that truth is completely unimportant and that it is only what people believe that matters. The other reviewer said the film was fun, but not very believable. Unfortunately, in 2004, Wag The Bush is believable---but not very funny!

Bill Sanders

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