Bush’s Primetime Lies Still Go Unchallenged

The far greater offense is not President Bush’s words being picked up by an unguarded microphone on July 17th at the G8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg and broadcast throughout the world. The deeper offense is the lack of mainstream media’s response to his scripted words spoken directly into a microphone at a news conference in Chicago on July 7th before national and local reporters. Here he did not talk with food in his mouth. Nor utter the s-word: “What they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.” (The Boston Globe, July 18, 2006) Nor did he display his ignorance of how far Russia is from Beijing. Nor try to give an unsuspecting member of the press an inappropriate neck massage. Here the president of the United States repeated again the same lies about Iraq. And the media let him.

When President Bush emphasized the importance of diplomacy in dealing with North Korea, which is developing nuclear weapons and had just test-fired missiles in defiance of the US and its allies, a reporter responded, “Mr. President, a lot of people here in Chicago tell us they see an incongruity in your foreign policy. We’re involved in a shooting war in Iraq,” he continued, “yet we have a leader in North Korea who has announced his affection for nuclear weapons and no hesitation to use them against the United States.” The reporter then asked, “Is your policy consistent between the way you have dealt with Iraq . . . [and] North Korea? And if so, are we headed toward a military action in North Korea?” (Transcript, “President Bush Holds a News Conference in Chicago,” CQ Transcripts Wire washingtonpost.com, July 7, 2006)

It is here that President Bush spoke one lie after another right into the microphone: “I have always said that it’s important for an American president to exhaust all diplomatic avenues before the use of force. . . . All diplomatic options were exhausted, as far as I was concerned, with Saddam Hussein.” (Ibid.)

President Bush’s lies were glaring:

And we tried diplomacy. We went to the U.N. Security Council-15-0 vote that said, ‘Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences. I happen to believe that when you say something, you better mean it. And so when we signed on to that resolution that said, ‘Disclose, disarm or face serious consequences.’ I meant what we said.

That’s one way you keep the peace [italics added]. You speak clearly and you mean what you say.

And so the choice was Saddam Hussein’s choice. He could have, you know, not fooled the inspectors. He could have welcomed the world in. He could have told us what was going on. But he didn’t and so we moved. Remember ­ remember ­ we put a coalition together at the United Nations that said, ‘Disclose, disarm or face serious consequences.’ (Ibid)

Mainstream media could have had a field day in Chicago exposing President Bush’s falsehoods. “All diplomatic options were exhausted, as far as I was concerned, with Saddam Hussein . . . He could have not fooled the inspectors.”

Where were the reporters? It has been obvious for sometime that President Bush was the one fooling everyone. He repeatedly justified his administration’s pre-emptive war against Iraq by saying, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof– and the smoking gun– that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” (“President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat,” Cincinnati, Ohio, The White House, Oct. 7, 2002) And three days before invading Iraq, he warned, “The danger is clear. Using chemical, biological or one day nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambition to kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other.” (“President Bush Presents 48 Hour Ultimatum,” Address to the Nation, The White House, Mar. 17, 2003)

“Fooled the inspectors” with “the smoking gun.” Over two months before President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, an Associated Press story quoted chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix as saying, “We have now been there [in Iraq] for some two months and been covering the country in ever widening sweeps and we haven’t found any smoking guns.” (“Blix Says No Smoking Guns Found in Iraq” by Edith M. Lederer, Associate Press, Jan. 9, 2003) Where were the reporters?

Saddam Hussein “could have welcomed the world in.” Ten days before President Bush launched his administration’s pre-emptive war against Iraq, Hans Blix’s report to the UN Security Council “stressed that Iraq is cooperating with the inspectors in numerous ways, including allowing surveillance flights over its territory without demanding advance warning and allowing private interviews with Iraqi scientists.” (“Inspectors Disprove US Accusations,” by Maria Tomchick, ZNet, Mar. 10, 2003) Where were the reporters?

Almost two months before President Bush “exhausted all diplomatic options . . . with Saddam Hussein,” Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reportedly joined Hans Blix in “making a diplomatic plea,” to the UN Security Council, for more time to continue their inspections. Mr. El Baradei told the Council “categorically that his teams had found ‘no evidence that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons programme.'” And in asking for more time, he said, “These few months in my view would be a valuable investment in peace because it would help us avoid a war.” (“Inspectors Fail to Find Smoking Gun,” by Sarah Left and Mark Oliver, Guardian, Jan. 27, 2003) And ten days before Bush “exhausted all diplomatic options,” El Baradei was quoted as concluding his report to the Security Council “by repeating what he said in mid-February: ‘After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.'” (“Inspections Disprove US Accusations” by Maria Tomchick, ZNet Mar. 10, 2003) Where were the reporters?

Hans Blix evidently did not agree with President Bush that “all diplomatic options were exhausted . . . with Saddam Hussein.” Blix was reported to have “lamented” Bush’s invasion’s “moment of truth for the world” that effectively ended the UN inspectors’ mission to disarm Iraq of any weapons of mass destruction. A Boston Globe story quoted Blix as saying, “I don’t think it is reasonable to close the door to inspections after three-and-a-half months.” He “would have welcomed some months more. . . . While inspectors followed up leads from US intelligence,” the story continued, “Blix said, ‘I must regret we have not found the results in so many cases. We certainly have not found any smoking guns.'” ( The Boston Globe, Mar. 19, 2003) Where were the reporters?

Almost three months into the Bush administration’s war of choice against Iraq, Hans Blix spoke “exclusively to the Guardian. . . accus[ing] the Bush administration of leaning on his inspectors to produce more damning language in their reports. . . . ‘By and large my relations with the US were good,’ he said. . . . ‘But towards the end the [Bush] administration leaned on us,’ he conceded, hoping the inspectors would employ more damning language in their reports to swing votes on the UN security council.” (“Blix: I Was Smeared by the Pentagon,” by Helena Smith, Guardian, June 11, 2003) Where were the reporters?

“And so the choice was Saddam Hussein’s choice . . . He could have told us what was going on,” President Bush said to the reporters in Chicago. Actually, Saddam Hussein did tell everyone that nothing was going on. In an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes II,” Hussein said, “As I told you and have said on many occasions before, that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq whatsoever.” (Feb. 5, 2003)

But President Bush did not believe him. Nor did Bush believe in the work of the UN weapons inspectors. He repeatedly said, “I’m sick and tired of games and deceptions.” (The New York Times, Jan. 15, 2003) “How much time do we need to see clearly that he is not disarming.” (The New York Times, Jan. 22, 2003) “No doubt he will play a last minute game of deception. The game is over.” (Feb. 7, 2003) Apparently the greatest threat to the Bush administration was not Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but the fear that the inspectors would not find any. Where were the reporters?

President Bush strained hard to prevent Saddam Hussein and the UN weapons inspectors from making a fear-and-war-mongering liar out of him. When American-led coalition forces captured two small trailers in Iraq, the Bush administration cited them as mobile laboratories for making biological weapons. And on May 29, 2003, Bush claimed on Polish television, “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.” Last April, a Washington Post story declared that a secret Pentagon-sponsored team of experts had examined the two trailers and “unanimously” concluded they “had nothing to do with biological weapons.” In fact, authoritative opinion dubbed the two trailers “the biggest sand toilets in the world.” (Apr. 12, 2006) But over three months later that did not stop Vice President Cheney from saying about them on NBC’s Meet the Press, “They’re in our possession today, mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or small pox or whatever else you wanted to use during the course of developing the capacity for an attack.” (Sept. 14, 2003)

Where were the reporters? Any one of them could have said, “Mr.President, why didn’t you tell Vice President Cheney ‘to stop doing this shit?'”

“He [Saddam Hussein] could have told us what was going on,” President Bush told the reporters. Any one of them might have asked him what is going on.

Three days before President Bush launched his war of choice against Iraq, he again warned, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised . . . {and} has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained, and harbored terrorists, including operative of al Qaeda.” (“President Bush Presents 48 Hour Ultimatum,” Address to the Nation, The White House, Mar. 17, 2003)

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt . . . ” Where was the “intelligence” of the reporters? The final report of the Bush administration’s own Iraqi Survey Group, prepared by Charles A Duelfer, America’s chief weapons inspector for Iraq, concluded almost two years ago that , “Iraq had destroyed its illicit weapons stockpile within months after the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and it’s ability to produce such weapons had significantly eroded by the time of the American invasion of 2003.” (The New York Times, Oct. 7, 2004

“Intelligence gathered from this and other governments leaves no doubt . . .” A growing body of Downing Street memo-like evidence reveals “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” by the Bush administration to justify invading Iraq. (The Sunday Times Britain, May 1, 2005) “Intelligence gathered!” Another example is the testimony of top CIA officer Tyler Drumheller on CBS News television program “60 Minutes.” Drumheller headed an intelligence operation that established a covert relationship with a paid informant, Foreign Minister Naji Sabir, a member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle, who disclosed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. This information was obtained and shared with the Bush administration some six months before Bush declared, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

According to Tyler Drumheller, then C.I.A. director George Tenet delivered Foreign Minister Sabir’s critical intelligence news at a meeting attended by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Condoleeza Rice, then National Security Advisor. But they were only interested in intelligence that would justify their decision to invade Iraq. Drumheller stated, “The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy, to justify the policy.” (April 23, 2006) What were reporters thinking when Bush said, “All diplomatic options were exhausted . . . with Saddam Hussein”?

President Bush said that Saddam Hussein “could have told us what was going on. But he didn’t and so we moved.” Bush “moved” to military aggression in violation of international law. What were reporters thinking when Bush continued to speak half-truths and evasive generalities directly into the microphone to hide his deceitful lies and justify his administration’s criminal behavior? “And we tried diplomacy. We went to the U. N. Security Council ­ 15-0 vote that said, ‘Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences'”

President Bush evidently felt free to repeat his lies to the American press. “Remember- remember ­ we put a coalition together at the United Nations that said, ‘Disclose, disarm or face serious consequences.'” Had reporters forgotten that UN Secretary General Kofi Anan condemned the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war against Iraq as “illegal,” a violation of international law because it lacked UN Security Council approval? Anan said about Bush’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” “Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it.” (The New York Times, Sept. 22, 2004)

Where were the local and national reporters when the microphone amplified President Bush’s words: “And so when we signed on to that resolution that said, ‘Disclose, disarm or face serious consequences.’ I meant what we said. That’s the way you keep the peace. You speak clearly, and you mean what you say.”?

President Bush’s twisted reasoning should have produced some straight talk from reporters. “I meant what we said. That’s one way you keep the peace.” [italics added] The Bush administration’s military invasion and occupation of Iraq is nearing three-and-a-half years, and the deceit and destructiveness of that criminal war of choice speaks for itself-and the violence devastating Iraq grows louder and more horrific every day.

Apparently oblivious to his administration’s own murderous policies, President Bush told the press in Chicago, “The problem is that the enemy gets to define success better than we do. See, they’ll kill innocent people like that. They don’t care. Life is not precious to them. And they’re willing to kill women and children in order to achieve a tactical objective.”

What did President Bush think America’s 21,000 pound “shock and awe” bombs dropped on Iraq were exploding on? The reigning on Iraq of hundreds of cruise missiles, which led a Pentagon official to say two months before the war, “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.” ? (CBS Evening News, Jan. 24, 2003) Is Bush even aware of US troops’ lethal assault on Fallujah that left hundred of civilians, including women and children, dead in its wake? And what about Haditha? And Mahmudiya? And other such atrocities committed by US troops against Iraqi women and children and other civilians that are surfacing? And the civil war-looming sectarian violence exploding all over Iraq triggered by the US-led invasion and occupation? And the widespread suffering and silent dying of so many Iraqi women and children and older persons as a result of the US-led military onslaught’s crippling of the country’s life-sustaining infrastructure?

The deaths of hundred of thousands of innocent Iraqi people can be laid at the feet of a president who seems to have no clue of just how “precious” life is to “the enemy” he demonizes. He personifies the very “evil” he attributes to the so-called “terrorists.” That “evil” needs to be exorcised from within him. Where were the reporters in Chicago ?

“Life is not precious to them. . . . They’re willing to kill women and children in order to achieve a tactical advantage.” This is the same president who, under the pretext of holding out for a “sustainable peace” in the Middle East, has sanctioned Israel’s indiscriminate, disproportionate bombing of Lebanon, with US-supplied weapons, which has resulted in the deaths of many children in Qana alone. Bush’s words in response, “May God bless those who lost their lives.” (“Bush stresses ‘sustainable’ Mideast peace,” Associated Press, MSNBC July 30, 2006) How profane pious words can become.

“That’s one way you keep the peace: You speak clearly, and you mean what you say.” Where were the reporters? President Bush has clearly demonstrated that he does not even mean what he prays. At his March 6, 2003 news conference, two weeks before invading Iraq, he spoke pious words directly into the microphone: “I pray daily. I pray for guidance and wisdom and strength. . . . I pray for peace. I pray for peace.” (The New York Times, Mar. 7, 2003) Two weeks later bombs from above began falling on Iraq. Considerable evidence indicates that the decision to use military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime was made shortly after Bush was elected president in 2000. Bush’s war-declaring “moment of truth for the world” has become a monument to the lies of his administration’s foreign policy.

After President Bush spoke “clearly” at the news conference about “all diplomatic options [being] exhausted . . . with Saddam Hussein,” he changed the subject. “So we’re now working the diplomacy, and you’re watching the diplomacy work not only in North Korea but in Iran.” (Transcript of News Conference in Chicago) And the reporters present remained silent.

The press attending the news conference accommodated President Bush’s continuing lies about his administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. And little coverage and analysis of “all the diplomatic options [he] exhausted . . . with Saddam Hussein” seemed to appear in mainstream media afterwards.

A few months after the Bush administration launched its pre-emptive war against Iraq, a New York Times editorial on “America’s Television Flop in Iraq” began with words that have strong implications for the United States: “If democracy is ever going to flourish in Iraq, one element will have to be lively, independent news media, professionally operated by Iraqis and featuring a broad range of political viewpoints.” (Aug. 9, 2003) To an alarming degree, mainstream media’s coverage of the US-led war against Iraq continues to be a “flop.” Instead of “independent” coverage and “a broad range of political viewpoints,” we Americans often continue to be subjected to all the news that’s print to fit. President Bush’s Chicago news conference is a glaring example of a media-guarded microphone.

Many in mainstream media appear to act as if President Bush’s fear-mongering lies about the invasion and occupation of Iraq are water under the bridge. Such avoidance of his administration’s war crimes against Iraq-and America-continues to weaken and sweep away national and international bridges of trust and understanding that make for justice and peace. Such avoidance by much of the dominant press increases the threat of a horrific, destructive backlash against America by those human beings the Bush administration continues to oppress in the name of “spreading the good news of human freedom to the darkest corners of the earth.” (“President Bush Thanks Military on Independence Day at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,” Iron Mike Plaza, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, The White House, July 4, 2006)

With mounting evidence exposing President Bush’s lies, it is amazing that he can still say directly into a microphone, in front of America’s mainstream media, “All diplomatic options were exhausted, as far as I was concerned, with Saddam Hussein.” America desperately needs the objective news coverage and editorial courage of it own “free press.” For ahead is Iran. And North Korea. And Israel and Lebanon and Palestine. And Iraq.

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached at william.alberts@bmc.org.

 

 

Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

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