A Guide to the President's Speech

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President
Bush will be addressing the nation about Iraq on Tuesday night.
This is the first time he will be speaking to the country on the
U.S. occupation of Iraq since the Downing Street Memos have been
released. As ten senators pointed out in a letter on Friday, June
24 "at a time the White House was promising Congress and the
American people that war would be their last resort, that they believed
military action against Iraq was ‘inevitable.’"

Thus,
the President was telling the public he was seeking a peaceful resolution
when in fact he was planning an invasion. He told Americans there
were unmanned Iraqi aircraft that could drop bombs over our cities.
His own intelligence agencies told him this was inaccurate. He tied
Saddam to Al Qaeda and Bin Laden – there was no evidence of that.
Indeed, the two — one secular, one fundamentalist — were mortal
foes. He talked about Saddam being able to launch a strike on the
United States in 45 minutes — there was no evidence Iraq was capable
of such an attack. He talked about the potential of a mushroom cloud
over the United States — a nuclear attack by Saddam — when there
was no evidence that a weakened, surrounded and embargoed Saddam
had any nuclear capability. When he was going to the U.N. it was
not to seek peace but to try and make an illegal invasion legal
by tricking Saddam into a misstep. For month after month, it now
seems evident, President Bush and his minions misled the nation,
repeating the fabrications and manipulations about weapons of mass
destruction, over and over and over in a drum beat to war.

The
administration has claimed the insurgency’s demise repeatedly for
the last two years — when the Iraq Governing Council was created,
when Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusai were killed, when the Coalition
Provisional Authority handed over powers to an Iraqi interim government,
when Saddam Hussein was captured and after the elections in January.
Yet the most recent months, have been the most violent. It seems
to be time for the American public and media covering Iraq to have
some doubt about the president’s sugarcoated assurances.

When
the President speaks on Tuesday night, viewers must take his words
with caution — with doubt — with an ear for the false statement,
phony motivation and exaggeration. Sadly, our commander in chief
has made it hard for the people to trust him on the Iraq situation
as shown in poll after poll. To assist viewers we provide the following
guide to the realities of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Making
America Less Safe:
The New York Times reported
on Sunday, June 26 "A classified assessment by the Central
Intelligence Agency says Iraq may be an even more effective training
ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was for Al Qaeda
in the days of the struggle against Soviet occupation. Iraq, unlike
Afghanistan, is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat."
This report echoes testimony of CIA Director Porter Goss before
the Senate in February that Iraq was a training ground for terrorists.
The leaked classified CIA report "says the urban nature of
the war in Iraq is helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations,
kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks . . ."

Insurgency
Getting Stronger and Could Last More Than a Decade:
The Bush
administration has been predicting the imminent defeat of the insurgency.
Most recently Vice President Cheney claimed on May 31 on Larry King
Live that the insurgency in Iraq is "in their last throes,"
and predicted that the fighting will end before the Bush administration
leaves office. These statements are inconsistent with statements
made by Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, who acknowledged
on Sunday, June 26th that the insurgency could last up
to 12 years; and with his top U.S. Commander in the Middle East,
Gen. John Abizaid, who testified before the Senate last week that
the Iraqi insurgency is as active as six months ago and more foreign
fighters are flowing in all the time. More and more people on the
ground in Iraq are saying the fight against the insurgency is not
winnable under present troop force.

Death
Rate in Iraq Is Mounting:
In March, 35 American soldiers died
in Iraq, in April 52 were killed, in May 80 died — those are more
troops killed than when Saddam’s poorly equipped army responded
to the U.S. invasion. Since the invasion of Iraq, Johns Hopkins
estimates more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed while a total
of 1,726 U.S. soldiers have died. The past four months have been
among the deadliest in Iraq — an average of 21 Iraqis were killed
each day in May. Last month there were about 700 reported attacks
against U.S. forces using improvised explosive devices — the highest
number since the war began.

Troops
Continue to Be Poorly Armed and Severely Injured:
The amount
of time we have spent in Iraq is longer than World War I and by
this time in World War II we were looking toward D-Day — yet in
Iraq U.S. troops are unable to adequately protect themselves. The
body armor and armor for vehicles is still inadequate to protect
U.S. troops after two years of soldiers' complaints and media criticism.
Will President Bush admit at least this fatal "mistake"
to the soldiers he is addressing on Tuesday night? This incompetent
management of the war and occupation has led to thousands of wounded.
The DoD reports 13,074 but knowledgeable estimates
range from 15,000 to 38,000 according to UPI investigative reporter,
Mark Benjamin. The Pentagon does not provide publicly a comprehensive
accounting of the human toll of the war from the American side,
not to mention the larger toll on the Iraqi people. The Administration
only reports the strictly combat-related injuries. Neither injuries
incurred not in combat nor disease-connected sicknesses nor severe
mental traumas are reported. What other President has deliberately
undercounted American casualties? No wonder President Bush orders
the return of U.S. casualties at nighttime to Andrews Air Force
base and bans the press from the military airport at Dover, Delaware.

U.S.
Respect in the World Diminishing:
The illegally fabricated Iraq
War and Occupation continue to isolate us further from the people
around the world. Last week an Italian court issued a warrant for
ten CIA agents involved in the rendition of a kidnapped Islamic
cleric. And, in Australia, some U.S. students
report such intense harassment
for being Americans that they
are leaving school there and returning home. The continued use of
GuantnamoBay to house uncharged "detainees" (a euphemism
for prisoners), the Abu Gulag prison scandal, prison abuse reports
in other parts of Iraq and Afghanistan, the rendition policy of
seizing people and bringing them to countries known for torture
all add up to a downward spiral in perception of the U.S. around
the world. Our government can no longer claim the mantel of human
rights protector when human rights organizations report that we
are a human rights violator around the world.

The
truth many Americans want to hear from the President, but are very
unlikely to hear, is that the war and occupation of Iraq was not
based on available intelligence, that our continued presence in
Iraq is counterproductive to the safety of Iraqis and the United
States, and that a responsible withdrawal from Iraq — of both U.S.
military and corporate interests — with continued humanitarian and
economic support is the most likely way to bring stability and democracy
to the country. (For a more detailed withdrawal plan see www.DemocracyRising.US.)
But sadly, more war talk is likely from this President and more
deaths of Americans and Iraqis will be the inevitable and tragic
result. Brent Skowcroft, National Security Advisor to the first
President Bush along with prominent retired military, diplomatic
and intelligence leaders warned this President Bush against invading
Iraq in 2002–2003. They must feel like prophets.

June
28, 2005

Ralph
Nader is a consumer advocate. Kevin Zeese [send
him mail
] is a director of Democracy
Rising.US
. You can comment on this article by visiting
the blog
.

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