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How Can They Justify the War, If WMDs Are Never Found?

by JASON LEOPOLD

Since the start of the war in Iraq four months ago, 212 American soldiers have been killed, including 79 who have died since May 1, when President George Bush declared an end to major hostilities in Iraq. It’s unclear how many Iraqi civilians perished during major combat, but estimates say it is “several thousand.”

The Iraqi’s did not welcome U.S. soldiers with bouquets of flowers, as the hawks in the White House suggested. Instead, they are begging us to leave and are engaging soldiers in guerrilla warfare. Iraq is in such disarray that experts predict it will take at least 10 years to rebuild the country’s infrastructure at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. More importantly though, to date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found and there isn’t a shred of proof that Iraq was building a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Still, Bush said Iraq was an imminent threat to its neighbors in the Middle East and to the United States. But how can that be if the evidence of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons program are nowhere to be found? How then can these casualties be justified?

Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator who repressed, murdered and tortured his own people. That and that alone was a good enough reason enough to go to war, according to Bush and his cabal of neoconservatives.

But that’s only true if Iraq proved to be an “imminent” threat. As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Bush may have meant well, but he lied and lied and lied.

A bulk of the intelligence information the CIA gathered to help the President build a case for war has not held up. There’s the now infamous uranium purchases Iraq was supposedly seeking from Niger, the mobile trailers that were purportedly used to cook up some chemical weapons, the aluminum tubes that Iraq bought to allegedly enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency Reports that don’t exist and on and on.

Some of Bush’s most frightening statements on Iraq, posted on the website findlaw.com, none of which have been proven accurate are:

“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons — the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

Radio Address October 5, 2002

“The Iraqi regime . . . possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

“We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas.”

“We’ve also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We’re concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States.”

“The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen” – his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

Cincinnati, Ohio Speech October 7, 2002

“Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.”

State of the Union Address January 28, 2003

John Dean, the former counsel to President Richard Nixon, made an excellent argument in June for possibly impeaching Bush if the president intentionally misled Congress and the public into backing the war with Iraq.

“Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness,” Dean wrote in a June 6 column. “A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson’s distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon’s false statements about Watergate forced his resignation.”

Based on the bogus intelligence information that has come to light thus far, there very well could be a case for impeaching Bush. Although no Democrat in Washington has so far had the guts to utter the “I” word with regard Bush and the Iraq war, the lousy intelligence information supplied to the White House by the CIA begs for a bipartisan investigation into what Bush knew and when he knew it.

“To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked,” Dean said in his column. “Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be “a high crime” under the Constitution’s impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony “to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.”

“It’s important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power,” Dean said.

What’s clear so far is that many of Bush’s top advisers, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, have misused the CIA. Wolfowitz had the spy agency investigate United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix in February 2002 in an attempt to discredit the scientist and possibly launch an early war with Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney frequently visited the CIA and put pressure on agents to beef up some intelligence information to portray Iraq as a threat to world security. It’s unclear whether Bush took any part in any of these schemes but it is a question Congress should ask the President.

Remember, this is a country that impeached a president for accepting sexual favors in the oval office and lying about it. There’s no doubt that the White House has so far failed to prove that Iraq was a lethal threat to the U.S. It’s time for our elected lawmakers to find out who should carry the blame.

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

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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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