The one thing Americans will not tolerate is being lied to. Conscious, clever and cunning lies from a President and his administration are an abomination to America’s concept of a free and open government of and by the people.
The tipping point for support of the preemptive invasion of Iraq hinged on the infamous and now discredited “16 words” related to Niger uranium and Iraq’s attempt to purchase it in Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address in 2002. An Iraqi nuclear threat, possibly linked to Osama Ben Laden was beyond the pale for Americans, and rightly so, had it been proved true. In the art of fear mongering, it was the ultimate wild card. Raising the visible specter of mushroom clouds, remember, is what carried Lyndon Johnson into the White House against Barry Goldwater in 1964.
Biological weapons and nerve gas attack were the other images raised by Mr. Bush in his war cry to the nation. It was all presented as being so utterly unquestionable. Unfortunately, the same message was carried to the United Nations and delivered by Colin Powell, and this was probably the real “slam-dunk” in the mind of Americans and the congress on the truth of the claims and the need for war.
It was all make up, a complete fabrication, a spooks slight-of-hand illusion, and reporting it as being unquestionable was a scurrilous lie. What has subsequently been born out is that those very individuals with the most information on the intelligence were the ones most skeptical of the claims made by Mr. Bush and his administration. From the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairman who voted “no” on going to war, Bob Graham, to high officials in the State Department, to the counter-terrorism Czar in the White House, Richard Clarke, to Mr. Wilson and a four star Marine General sent to Niger to check out the uranium claim, to the head of the International Atomic Energy Association, Mohammed ElBaradei: to the multiple on-the-ground spies who had gone into Iraq and reported back of finding no weapons: all were dismayed, confounded and outraged by Mr. Bush’s solid and unquestioned claims of an immanent danger and threat posed to the United States by Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
Omitting critical intelligence that completely refutes or calls into serious doubt other claims is like selling a used car with a bad engine and transmission but a brilliant body and interior. It is essentially a lie. And American’s know it; at least the majority does so now.
As Democrats struggle for a unified voice in the upcoming mid-term elections they could do no better than to beat the drum of a double-dealing administration and president who falsely led us into war on a second front. Unlike the necessary invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice, a naked aggression with possible personal motive by an obsessed administration which turned a completely deaf ear to contradictory assessments by knowledgeable men and women. And, to the whole world, the United States of America was made to look the fool: Not to mention the death, maiming, destruction, strained military and bankrupt treasury that are the fruits of this war.
So, for Democrats in the coming year, the courageous, plain and simple message should be a reminder to all of the absolute deception and arrogance that led us into this terrible morass: It was the lies and half-truths, stupid.
Dr. JOHN BOMAR, a veteran of the Vietnam War, is a Catholic Lay Minister in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org