Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lie deja vu

It seems that I was writing the same thing just last week. I was blogging about our Republican legislators perpetuating lies regarding Iraq. However, this week there's a slight twist: the lie being perpetuated this time is that there are WMDs in Iraq.

FOX News was proud to report Hundreds of WMDs Found in Iraq. They quote senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) as saying "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons." Referring to a declassified National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) report, representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) was also quoted: "This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq."

What are the "WMDs" these congressmen refer to? They are approximately 500 shells, canisters, and munitions that contain degraded mustard gas or sarin nerve agent. Sounds pretty scary! Surely they must be the elusive WMDs that secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld said are "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Not exactly. It turns out the munitions pre-date the Gulf War of 1991. After Iraq's war against Iran, they buried the munitions near the border of Iran since they no longer needed them. They were subsequently seemingly either abandoned or forgotten there by Saddam Hussein. The chemical weapons are so degraded by time that a senior Defense Department official stated that they are not in usable condition.

Intelligence officials from three different agencies told reporters that the NGIC report was substantially the same as a 2004 report by a team of American weapons inspectors led by Charles A. Duelfer that concluded Hussein was not in possession of significant stocks of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons at the time of the US-led invasion. The intelligence agents went on to say that Hoekstra had actually pressured them to declassify the report on June 15 and 19.

Could it be a coincidence that he gave the DNI, John Negroponte, just 48 hours to declassify the NGIC report a couple of days prior to the debate about the Iraq war to be had on the floor of the Senate? On his Countdown show, Keith Olbermann suggests it was not. His guests make the claim that Santorum's reelection campaign is in serious trouble, so he is using the report to justify his support of the Iraq war to his constituency.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th."

Those are the exact words babbled by president Bush almost three years ago. Although ineptly worded, that was one of the few times when Bush spoke truthfully on the topic. The 9/11 Commission Report made that assessment incontrovertible.

Yet here we are in 2006 and the GOP is still trying to perpetuate the lie that Iraq played a role in the attack of 9/11/2001. Although Bush has made countless deceptive statements intended to associate Saddam Hussein with 9/11 in the minds of the American people, congressional investigations and reports have since completely debunked any relationship whatsoever between Iraq and al Qaeda ... prior to Bush's invasion of the country. Nonetheless, the House Republicans returned to this campaign of deception just last week.

The House majority leader John Boehner distributed a confidential messaging memo to House Republican members for the floor debate on Iraq. In it, Boehner makes a half dozen references to 9/11 and almost a dozen to terror. The memo is replete with statements clearly intended to recreate the false tie between Iraq and 9/11 in the people's House like:
  • "It is imperative during this debate that we re-examine the conditions that required the United States to take military action in Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • "The attacks we witnessed that day serve as a reminder of the dangers we face as a nation in a post-9/11 world.
  • "In a post-9/11 world, we could no longer allow despots and dictators like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to ignore international sanctions and resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council.
  • "As Republicans who supported military action against Saddam Hussein and terrorists around the globe...
  • "In a post-9/11 world, do we confront dangerous regimes and the threat of terrorism with strength and resolve...?"
Even the title of the memo, "Floor Debate on Iraq and the Global War on Terror," tries to make a fallacious connection. Global terrorism will not be defeated in Iraq and Bush will not protect Americans from it by leaving America exposed in the homeland. Bush's claim that we've made the decision to defeat the terrorists in Iraq "so we don't have to face them here at home" is a non sequitur. Does anyone really believe that every terrorist intent on doing harm to Americans is going to make their attack on us in Iraq? And how does the war in Iraq protect Americans from home-grown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, and Eric Rudolph.

It's long past time for the GOP to give up on the campaign of deceit intended to make the American people think Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. If they insist on perpetuating lies about the war in Iraq, they should at least be intellectually honest and return to the original excuse for invading Iraq: that Hussein had WMDs.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

War profiteer or liar?

Vice president Dick Cheney was formerly the CEO of Halliburton and still receives compensation from the company. Could that have anything to do with the fact that Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) received an almost $7-billion no-bid contract (before the US even invaded) to clean up Iraq from the damage done by invading the country? After all, KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton, so one would expect Cheney to see financial gain by such a contract. Furthermore, Cheney was clearly in a position to influence the granting of the contract.

According to Chuck Dominy, Halliburton's vice president for government affairs, nothing could be further from the truth. When asked that question on 60 Minutes in 2003, Dominy responded, "Zero, I will guarantee you that. Absolutely zero impact." Cheney himself also says he had nothing to do with the Army Corp's decision to give the no bid contract to Halliburton. That's pretty unambiguous. Case closed, right?

Wrong! Judicial Watch obtained an email from March 5, 2003, that quotes a Pentagon official saying about the KBR contract, "We anticipate no issue; since action has been coordinated w VP's office." Another newly released email from an Army Corps of Engineer official said, "I am copying you on this crap since I honestly believe the competitive procurement will never happen."

How is it that Cheney could have had "absolutely zero impact" on the KBR contract if it was "coordinated w VP's office"? It's clearly a contradiction demonstrating yet again that Cheney used the war in Iraq as a vehicle for him to profit personally. It also shows that Cheney knows how to dissemble better than Bush does. So the answer to my first question is: C. All of the above.

Friday, June 09, 2006

With friends like that...

Former FEMA director Michael Brown was widely criticized for FEMA's fault-ridden response to the hurricane Katrina disaster. Yet in spite of his failures, president Bush told him "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

At first blush, it seems strange to commend someone for dismal performance. However, an email leaked by Brownie himself sheds new light on what Bush really meant. Brown actually was doing a good job -- but not at responding to the disaster. He was doing a good job of taking a beating.

The email with the subject "You and the President," written by a staffer of the Executive Office of the President ( to Brown shortly after the disaster, said:
I did hear of one reference to you, at the Cabinet meeting yesterday. I wasn't there, but I heard someone commented that the press was sure beating up on Mike Brown, to which the President replied "I'd rather they beat up on him than me or Chertoff." Congratulations on doing a great job of diverting hostile fire away from the leader.
That's right: instead of accepting responsibility for the failures of his administration himself, the chief executive let a lowly scapegoat take the heat! Although Bush is widely considered to be someone who rewards loyalty, he rewarded Brown by letting him be scoffed and derided by most of his fellow Americans for Bush's own shortcomings as a leader. With a patron like that, who needs detractors?