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Once again the world now waits with fear and trepidation regarding the threat of a US attack on Iraq.
The President provides as justification for this impending attack the Iraqi refusal to comply with UN resolutions regarding weapons inspections, the alleged Iraqi threat to its neighbors and the Iraqi government’s mistreatment of its own citizens.
The American people are being called upon to send their young sons and daughters to go and kill young Iraqi sons and daughters. This war, like all wars, will be brutal and will leave many American and Iraqi families mourning the loss of their children.
We’re not allowed to publicly question the Bush Administration for fear of being called unpatriotic. Aren’t we entitled to really know why we’re being urged to go to war? Aren’t we entitled to be confident that the Administration is telling the truth?
We know that this Administration has some trouble with telling the truth.
You might recall that the White House had a kind of amnesia a few months ago and didn’t tell the truth about September 11 until I asked some pretty straightforward questions. In so doing, it seems I helped them remember that they had in fact received a whole raft of reports warning of terrorist attacks against this country.
And this is the same Administration, which stole the 2000 election in Florida and then lied about it.
There have been so many times I wished our country could use its massive military resources for such noble goals as protecting civilians and enforcing UN Security Council Resolutions. I’d be their greatest supporter. But I’ve sat upon this committee for 10 years and I have seen our country repeatedly refuse to use to its military to save civilians from slaughter.
I need only remind you of our country’s shameful failure to intervene in Rwanda in 1994 and in so doing we allowed 1,000,000 Rwandan men, women and children to be butchered with axes and machetes in 100 days.
And, yes, we are the same country that abandoned the people of Afghanistan to the Taliban, that abandoned the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the invading Rwandans and the Ugandans, that abandoned the people of East Timor to the invading Indonesians, that abandoned the people of Sierra Leone to the brutal hand chopping killers of the RUF, that abandoned the people of Chechnya to the brutal Russian Army, that abandoned the people of the Philippines to brutalities of Ferdinand Marcos, that abandoned the people of Chile to monstrous crimes of General Pinochet and so on and so on.
But the President would have us believe that this time things are different for once, he says, we’re going to war to save people’s lives.
However, just last Sunday, September 15, 2002, the Washington Post’s lead story carried the banner headline “In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil is the Key Issue.” The article then went on to describe how US oil companies were looking forward to taking advantage of the oil bonanza, which would follow Saddam Hussein’s removal from office.
Apparently, so the article says, CIA Director James Woolsey, indicated that non-US oil companies who sided with Hussein would most likely be excluded from sharing in Iraq’s massive oil reserves a*” reserves said to be second only to Saudi Arabia.
And I find the current Bush fervor and alleged urgent justifications for attacking Iraq startling because I recall reading an article from the London Guardian on December 2, 2001 last year, which had a banner headline “Secret US Plan for Iraq War.” The article, almost a year old now, is interesting because it reports that the President had already ordered the CIA and his senior military commanders to draw up detailed plans for a military operation against Iraq. The operational commander was General Tommy Franks working out of the US Central Command at McDill air force base in Florida. Apparently, other key players were, low and behold, the CIA Director James Woolsey and the Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.
What I found most incredible about the article, especially after reading this week’s Washington Post article, was the last sentence which said:
“The most adventurous ingredient in the anti- Iraqi proposal is the use of US ground troops . . . significant numbers of [US] troops could also be called on in the early stages of any rebellion to guard oil fields around the Shia port of Basra in southern Iraq.”
Isn’t it amazing the London Times didn’t refer to US troops guarding the new parliament, or the schools or hospitals full of ravaged civilians, or saving the men, women and children brutalized under years of Hussein’s rule.
I wonder why the President hasn’t talked about these plans, which were being cooked up nearly a year ago.
I learned this week from the Times of London that Bush Administration plans to spend some $200m on convincing a skeptical American and world public that the war on Iraq is justified. I didn’t realize that telling the truth would be so expensive.
And surely if we were really interested today in the truth about whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction wouldn’t this Committee want to hear from Scott Ritter. I just cannot believe that he’s not here today.
Before we send our young men and women off to war, we need to really make sure that we’re not sacrificing them so that rich and powerful men can prosecute a war for oil.