Research: Commentary

Search for Truth as Elusive as Those WMD

South Florida Sun-Sentinel, January 29, 2004 | Article

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President Bush has latched on to two hot-button issues, illegal immigration and a manned mission to Mars, in an obvious attempt to divert America's attention from an emerging cascade of information exposing the lies and deception that led us into pre-emptive war on Iraq.

Reports from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the U.S. Army War College, arms hunter David Kay, revelations from former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Karen Kwiatkowski, an official in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, all paint a damning portrait of an administration "out to lunch" on terrorist threats and hellbent for war on Iraq.

The Carnegie Endowment did an exhaustive study of pre-war information about Iraq emanating from the Bush administration. A consistent pattern emerged, a gradual change of tone from possibility to probability to absolute certainty in the administration's assessments of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear capability. Official pronouncements, from the president on down, increasingly exaggerated the threat -- although supporting evidence was scant or missing entirely.

President Bush has reversed this process since last year's State of the Union address. Then he spoke of hundreds of tons of anthrax, nerve gas, botulism for biological weapons and of nuclear capability. In this year's address, he downgraded the threat to the meaningless "dozens of weapons-of-mass-destruction-related-program activities." Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted this weekend that his charge at the U.N. last February ("our conservative estimate that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent") had no factual basis.

This deception was exposed by Professor Jeffery Record at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He reported this month that his research showed that: "The Iraq invasion was an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault from al-Qaida."

David Kay was called in by the Bush administration to find the elusive weapons of mass destruction that neither U.N. inspectors before the invasion nor U.S. Army inspectors after could find over a period of several months. He was given a $900 million budget with hundreds of inspectors. He threw in the towel on Jan. 23, telling Reuters: "I don't think they existed."

Paul O'Neill refused to resign, forcing his firing, and has written that President Bush was committed to an Iraqi invasion from the time of his first Cabinet meeting and went full-speed ahead immediately after 9-11. The program was kept under wraps until after President Bush's 2002 summer vacation, whereupon the American public and Congress, traumatized by 9-11, were inundated with scare propaganda leading up to the invasion without U.N. sanction, earning worldwide condemnation.

When our official intelligence agencies, the CIA, DIA, NSA were unable to provide credible enough information to substantiate Bush administration claims, the Pentagon set up its own intelligence apparatus, the Office of Special Plans. Lt. Col. Karen Kwaitkowski was a staff member who requested and got early retirement. As a self-styled conservative, she became appalled at OSP's blatant ideological purpose that colored intelligence obtained not by rigorous investigation but by cherrypicking unsubstantiated information to arrive at a predetermined position; not a search for the truth but pure propaganda designed to sway Congress and the American people.

Daniel Ellsberg, whose public revelation of the Pentagon Papers exposed the lies and deception that fueled the Vietnam War and 58,000 American deaths, sees "history repeating itself."

What we can now expect is that someone or some agency will be made the scapegoat for this tragic turn of events. But the blame must be put squarely where it belongs.

If President Bush sticks with his refusal to face reality, as was abundantly shown in his recent State of the Union address and later remarks, the American people must demand that Congress institute a full and complete investigation of the circumstances leading up to the Iraqi invasion.

It is critical that we avoid another Vietnam-like trauma and get back to addressing the causes of terrorism and seeking remedies through cooperative effort with the rest of humanity.

 

Copyright 2004 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Original article available here.

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