No weapons of mass destruction creates problem for Bush
UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com)--The Iraq war
and removal of Saddam Hussein was supposed to be the glue that would seal Pres. George W. Bushs campaign for re-election.
The photo-op of Mr. Bush in a bomber jacket greeting sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln was already packaged and ready for
delivery for use in countless campaign ads. But, the further Mr. Bush gets from the invasion of the tiny Muslim nation, the
more haunting it becomes to his future.
Despite his current high popularity rating,
the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraqthe pretext for invading the countryhas politicians, commentators and the
American public abuzz over whether the war was justified.
Citing numerous occasions where Bush administration
officials declared the existence of the types of weapons that would wreak havoc on American citizens that would dwarf 9-11including
statements by the President himself, and the display, complete with graphics and charts, put on by Secretary of State Colin
Powell at the United Nations a month before the warcritics now say that not only was there a rush to war, but lies were told
to justify it.
"Presidential statements, particularly on
matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness," said John W. Dean, who
served as counsel to Republican President Richard Nixon.
"A president cannot stretch, twist or distort
facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnsons distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from
re-election. President Richard Nixons false statements about Watergate forced his resignation," Mr. Dean wrote in a June 6
column, inadvertently addressing the issue of impeachment of Pres. Bush that is being discussed on Capitol Hill.
But Colin Powellwhose credibility as a fair
player has been tarnished by his UN presentation and his turn toward a more hawkish policydefended the administration during
the Sunday, June 8 television talk show stump and in other reports.
"Iraq had chemical weapons, they used chemical
weapons. We have no doubt whatsoever, that over the last several years they have retained chemical weapons and capability
to start up production of such weapons," he said, adding that he spent four days and nights at CIA headquarters to assure
the veracity of the intelligence he presented to the UN on Feb. 7.
"Slowly, but surely, we are finding" the evidence,
Still, U.S. News and World Report magazine
reported that during those days at CIA headquarters, Mr. Powell threw pages of his report in the air, exclaiming, "Im not
reading this. This is bulls," obviously outraged by the "fabrications" in the report by hawks who wanted an excuse to get
at Saddams oil, or those left over from the first Bush administration who wanted to "finish the job" that was left incomplete
during the first Gulf War.
Further implicating "bad intelligence" was
the magazines June 9 issue revelation of a Defense Intelligence Agency report titled "Iraq: Key Weapons FacilitiesAn Operational
Support Study," issued last September that found "no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical
weapons, or whether Iraq hasor willestablish its chemical warfare agent production facilities."
Even as the UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix,
was presenting his last report June 5 to the Security Council on Iraqs "weapons of mass destruction," Vanity Fair magazine
was quoting the Bush administrations chief hawk, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, as saying the "weapons of mass destruction"
argument was used because "it was the one everyone could agree on."
That, perhaps, goes to the crux of why UN
weapons inspectors could not find evidence of the continuation or resumption of programs of weapons of mass destruction during
their months in Iraq.
"As I have noted before, this does not necessarily
mean that such items could not exist. They might. There remain long lists of items unaccounted for, but it is not justified
to jump to the conclusion that something does not exist just because it is unaccounted for," Dr. Blix said during his last
report to the UN body. He retires from the post on June 30.
The following day, Mr. Blix cast further doubt
on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. During an interview with the BBC, he said his teams came up empty handed
as they followed up U.S. and British leads at suspected sites across Iraq.
"We went to a great many sites that were given
to us by intelligence, and only in three cases did we find anything ... and they did not relate to weapons of mass destruction,"
the BBC quoted Mr. Blix as saying.
"I must say, I was impressed by that, because
we had been told that they would give the best intelligence they had. If this is the best intelligence they had and we find
nothing, what about the rest?" he added.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was mobbed
by UN reporters as he entered UN headquarters on the day of Mr. Blixs testimony. They wanted to know if the secretary-general
trusted the evidence presented to the UN, prior to the war, by Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"I think the search is going on and we will
wait to see. So far, nothing has been found and Mr. Blix has also put out his report, and the Council is still seized of the
problem. If the new team does not find something, obviously there will be lots of questions, and we are all aware of that,"
Mr. Annan replied.
In Qatar, that same morning, Pres. Bush addressed
the troops at Camp As Sayliyah. He said that Saddam Hussein "spent decades hiding tools of mass murder. He knew inspectors
were looking for them. We are on the lookout. Well reveal the truth."
The U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte,
told reporters, after Mr. Blixs talk, that he had "no doubt that we will be able to establish that there were weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq."
Mr. Negroponte said that Mr. Blixs report
demonstrates that unresolved issues from 1998 remain unresolved to this day.
"I would counsel patience," Ambassador Negroponte
said, in a statement of complete irony. It was the same request that Mr. Blix had asked forpatiencebefore pulling out of Iraq
at the hint of a coming U.S. invasion.
In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence and the Senate Armed Services Committee have announced plans to conduct a joint inquiry into whether evidence
was manufactured to justify attacking Iraq, while the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence plans its own examination.
The CIA said it has called in former agency
analysts to study ongoing investigations of the information the CIA gave the departments of Defense and State.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also is
coming under relentless criticism for his support of the war in light of the evidence. The British and Danish parliaments
also have launched investigations into whether evidence used to support the war was skewed.
Supporters of Mr. Blair, however, say it is
premature to call for inquiries over weapons of mass destruction.
"The conspiratorial notion that Mr. Blair
and others actively invented or warped official intelligence to make the case for war is more presumed than proven," a recent
editorial in the Times of London said. The editorial asked for a period of common sense, until the coalition inspectors complete
a comprehensive search.
Some supporters of Pres. Bush have suggested
that the Bush administration is under no obligation to prove that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.
"We dont have the burden of finding weapons
of mass destruction nownot because hindsight vindicates our action as a humane liberator of the Iraqi peoplebut because we
never had the burden in the first place," argued columnist David Lambaugh, a Missouri attorney and an analyst for the conservative
think tank, The Heritage Foundation.
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