Beginning to grasp reality

The Washington Post reports:

Public support for President Bush has dropped sharply amid growing concerns about U.S. military casualties and doubts whether the war with Iraq was worth fighting, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Bush's overall job approval rating dropped to 59 percent, down nine points in the past 18 days. That decline exactly mirrored the slide in public support for Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, which now stands at 58 percent.

The big story has moved from:

- Bush knowingly using false information in his State of the Union speech about the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein.
- To Bush saying he was misled by the CIA which saw the speech in advance.
- To the CIA director admitting he should have urged the information be struck from the State of the Union speech.
- To the story this morning in the Washington Post that the CIA director did, in fact, get the information removed from the speech – but it was a speech three months before the State of the Union.

This last can be found here. Apparently Bush tried to say the same thing on October 7, 2002 and the CIA got it removed. Actually, the information in question was refuted several months before when a former ambassador, under directives from the office of the vice president, went to Nigeria to investigate it and came back and said there was no truth to it.

Step back, a moment, to March, 2002. Condoleezza Rice is meeting with some Senators regarding Iraq. Bush comes by and, as Time Magazine reported, poked his head in and said simply "F___ Saddam. We're taking him out."

So what do you believe - or who?

There’s another simmering story that's poitential more explosive. The Berkshire Eagle is a small newspaper in Western Massachusetts that has long enjoyed an excellent reputation for solid journalism. In a recent edtitorial it said:

The Bush administration has never wanted an inquiry into the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that led up to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and it is doing its best to make sure we never get one. Even the tame commission of Washington insiders, led by men of the president's own party, is now complaining that its work is being hampered by foot-dragging from the Pentagon and Justice Department in producing documents and witnesses, in an effort to run the clock out on it before it can complete its work. The commission's leaders have taken the extraordinary step of accusing the White House of witness "intimidation," insisting that sensitive witnesses testify only in the presence of a "monitor" from their agency. The parallel to Saddam Hussein's refusal to let Iraqi scientists talk to U.N. weapons inspectors without a similar monitor is too glaring to miss and begs the obvious question: What has Mr. Bush got to hide?

The crudeness of his tactics suggests that whatever it is, it must be pretty bad.

And continues later ….

The American people deserve a thorough investigation. They want to know why the fighter jets weren't scrambled after the first plane hit the tower, what the Clinton and Bush administrations knew about threats from al-Qaida and what they were doing about them, what citizens of our allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan financed Osama bin Laden and his hijackers, how the FBI and CIA missed obvious clues and let suspects they were following slip away, why airline security was so lax, what is the meaning of a suspicious pattern of stock transactions that occurred before the attacks, whether law enforcement efforts were subordinated to diplomatic priorities and the needs and desires of American oil companies.

But back to the current controversy. Maureen Dowd, apparently working without the latest information about the CIA removing the bogus allegations from the October 7 speech, makes a case against the president's handling of intelligence information. Her column is in today’s New York Times.

W. built his political identity on the idea that he was not Bill Clinton. He didn't parse words or prevaricate. He was the Texas straight shooter.

So why is he now presiding over a completely Clintonian environment, turning the White House into a Waffle House, where truth is camouflaged by word games and responsibility is obscured by shell games?


Dissembling over peccadillos is pathetic. Dissembling over pre-emptive strikes is pathological, given over 200 Americans dead and 1,000 wounded in Iraq, and untold numbers of dead Iraqis. Our troops are in "a shooting gallery," as Teddy Kennedy put it, and our spy agencies warn that we are on the cusp of a new round of attacks by Saddam snipers.


The Bush administration has known all along that the evidence of the imminent threat of Saddam's weapons and the Al Qaeda connections were pumped up. They were manning the air hose.

Mr. Tenet, in his continuing effort to ingratiate himself to his bosses, agreed to take the fall, trying to minimize a year's worth of war-causing warping of intelligence as a slip of the keyboard. "These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president," he said, in 15 words that were clearly written for him on behalf of the president. But it won't fly.

And then, of course, there was the evidence from Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, as recounted many places. This is from Robert Scheer, writing in the LA Times:

What is startling in Wilson's account, however, is that the CIA, the State Department, the National Security Council and the vice president's office were all informed that the Niger-Iraq connection was phony. No one in the chain of command disputed that this "evidence" of Iraq's revised nuclear weapons program was a hoax.

Yet, nearly a year after Wilson reported back the facts to Cheney and the U.S. security apparatus, Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union speech, invoked the fraudulent Iraq-Africa uranium connection as a major justification for rushing the nation to war:

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium in Africa." What the president did not say was that the British were relying on their intelligence white paper, which was based on the same false information that Wilson and the U.S. ambassador to Niger had already debunked.

"That information was erroneous, and they knew about it well ahead of both the publication of the British white paper and the president's State of the Union address," Wilson said Sunday on "Meet the Press."

Funny - the truth I always suspected is emerging. I don't feel elated. I feel depressed. I'd prefer to have been wrong.

Posted by Greg Stone at July 13, 2003 09:17 AM
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