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Bush as a B-Grade Nixon

by JASON LEOPOLD

President Bush said the Iraq conflict is like watching a “rerun of a bad movie.” But clearly, the only bad movie Americans are being forced to watch all over again are the Nixon-like qualities–the paranoia, the secrecy and lies–that Bush recycled from Tricky Dick and is now the standard operating procedure for the Bush administration.

Iraq just happens to be the icing on the cake. There are still the thorny questions that linger about what Bush knew about the September 11 terrorist attacks and when he knew it; Vice President Dick Cheney’ refusal to turn over the names of the people his energy task force met with and the desire to start a war with Iraq without proving to the world first that the country has weapons of mass destruction. All of these issues require answers. In the three years that Bush has been in office, he hasn’t answered one.

On Thursday, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Why We Know Iraq is Lying,” made half-a-dozen allegations, but provided no evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

“Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons,” Rice wrote in her editorial. “Instead of full cooperation and transparency, Iraq has filed a false declaration to the United Nations that amounts to a 12,200-page lie.”

“For example, the declaration fails to account for or explain Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United Nations in Iraq’s accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons,” Rice said. “Far from informing, the declaration is intended to cloud and confuse the true picture of Iraq’s arsenal.”

Rice says the discovery last week of 12 empty chemical warheads is “troubling.” But as Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O’Hanlon said in news reports last week: “No one wants to go to war over 12 artillery shells.”

So, to sell a war on Iraq to the public, Bush and his cronies have turned the White House into a propaganda machine. This week, the new office of Global Communications issued the report “Apparatus of Lies,” which attempts to make a case for war by showing the world how Saddam Hussein murdered his own people during the Gulf War, destroyed his country’s infrastructure and has a long history of lying and deceit.

“To craft tragedy, the regime places civilians close to military equipment, facilities, and troops, which are legitimate targets in an armed conflict,” according to an excerpt of the report. “The Iraqi regime openly used both Iraqis and foreigners as human shields during the Gulf War, eventually bowing to international pressure and releasing them. It has also placed military equipment next to or inside mosques and ancient cultural treasures. Finally, it has deliberately damaged facilities and attributed the damage to coalition bombing…”

If Saddam Hussein remains in power he could destroy the world, according to the report. That’s Bush’s paranoia talking. No one disputes the fact that Iraqis would be better off without Hussein as their president or that Hussein is a cold-blooded killer. This “Apparatus of Lies” is nothing more than a psychological tactic_an advertisement_by the Bush administration to get the public to support a war.

However, the latest poll conducted by NBC/Wall Street Journal show public support waning for if the United States wages a war against Iraq without the support of its allies. But Bush doesn’t care what the public thinks, according to his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, he doesn’t give a damn what Russia, Germany, China or France think either.

“The President will make his judgment about when to use force to protect the country on the basis of what he believes is best to protect the country, not on the basis of any poll for or against,” Fleischer said during his press briefing Thursday.

Bush’s tough guy persona, particularly his “I’m sick and tired” of dealing with Iraq statement and his refusal to give the United Inspectors more time have boosted anti-American sentiment around the world to an all-time high and have forced his approval rating here to nosedive. A reporter for a newspaper in Japan told CNN last week that Bush is being perceived as a “cowboy” and a “bully” because of his public remarks leaving many people to ask why he is so gung-ho to start a war. If the Bush administration is concealing intelligence information about the alleged threat Iraq poses now is the time to share the information.

If the Democrats have any hope for reclaiming the White House in 2004 now is the time to speak up against the President. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets at antiwar demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to make sure their voices are heard. The least the Democrats can do is show some spine too.

JASON LEOPOLD can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

 

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

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