A Cynical Manipulation

Following President Bush’s hour-long interview with NBC’s Tim Russert, we can now state conclusively that President Bush deliberately misled the American people and continues to do so.

Item: Bush claims he was acting on the best intelligence there was when he decided to go to war.

Fact: The intelligence given to Bush was full of warnings, caveats, disagreements and doubts as to its reliability. All of this was expunged, and Bush and his crew stated as a dead certainty that Saddam Hussein had a large stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

The aluminum tubes, for example, were claimed by Bush to be necessary to make a nuclear weapon. The State Department intelligence people and the Energy Department intelligence people flatly disagreed. They also expressed disagreement about the prospects of Iraq developing a nuclear weapon.

Even the CIA warned Bush that the report of Iraq’s attempt to buy yellow cake from Niger was unreliable, but it went into the president’s State of the Union speech anyway.

Item: Bush repeated his claim that Iraq was in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Fact: If indeed there are no weapons of mass destruction, as it now appears there are not, then Iraq had complied with U.N. resolutions. The Iraqis had been saying for years that there were no weapons of mass destruction, and they were just called liars by American administrations. Moreover, Israel is in violation of more than 60 U.N. resolutions. Thus, U.N. resolutions are hardly a cause of war.

Item: Bush says that Saddam Hussein was a madman and that a madman "can’t be contained."

Fact: Saddam Hussein had been successfully contained since 1991. Since the first Gulf War, Saddam had not attacked anyone, fired any weapons at any of his neighbors or threatened to attack anyone.

Item: Bush claimed that Iraq was a threat to its neighbors as well as to the United States and its friends (read Israel).

Fact: All of the countries adjacent to Iraq said publicly during the buildup to war that they did not, I say again, did not consider Iraq a threat.

Item: Bush keeps repeating that Saddam had used weapons of mass destruction.

Fact: That was true. They were used in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War and not since. One can easily say the same thing of the United States. We used weapons of mass destruction — nukes during World War II and poison gases during World War I. Other facts Bush omits are that during the Iran-Iraq War, the United States was backing Saddam Hussein, and the U.S. intelligence agencies published a report exonerating Iraq from the gas attack that killed a village of Kurds.

Item: Bush claims his administration has been "extraordinarily cooperative" with the commission examining the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Fact: There has been news story after news story about the Bush White House’s extraordinary lack of cooperation and stonewalling. Bush, of course, admits to never reading any newspapers, so perhaps he is just disconnected from reality.

One could go on and on. Bush does not seem to grasp that a policy of pre-emptive wars requires dead-on accurate intelligence. Despite all the errors in his so-called war on terrorism, Bush has not fired a single person. He absolutely refuses to hold himself or anybody in his administration accountable.

Furthermore, he does not seem to grasp the enormous damage he has done to the image and credibility of the United States. Bush seems to exist in a deluded state of mind in which he imagines himself as Roosevelt or Churchill confronting global evil. That’s a dangerous state of mind for a president. Compared with those two leaders, Bush is a mental and moral midget.

Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on LewRockwell.com. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner.