NEW YORK--George W. Bush told us that Iraq and Al Qaeda
were working together. They weren't. He repeatedly implied that
Iraq had had something to do with 9/11. It hadn't. He claimed to
have proof that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons of
mass destruction. He didn't. As our allies watched in horror and
disgust, Bush conned us into a one-sided war of aggression that
killed and maimed thousands of innocent people, destroyed
billions of dollars in Iraqi infrastructure, cost tens of billions of
dollars, cost the lives of American soldiers, and transformed our
international image as the world's shining beacon of freedom into
that of a marauding police state. Presidents Nixon and Clinton
rightly faced impeachment for comparatively trivial offenses; if we
hope to restore our nation's honor, George W. Bush too must face
a president's gravest political sanction.
As the Bush Administration sold Congress and the public on the
"threat" posed by Saddam Hussein last winter, White House flack
Ari Fleischer assured the American people: "The President of the
United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as
plainly and vocally as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass
destruction if it was not true and if they did not have a solid basis
for saying it." That's unambiguous rhetoric. But since allied
occupation forces have failed to find WMDs, Bush is
backtracking: "I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out
that they did have a weapons program," the C-in-C now says.
What's next? Claiming that Saddam had WMDs because, you
know, you could just feel it?
A ferocious power struggle is taking place between Langley and
the White House. "It's hard to tell if there was a breakdown in
intelligence or a breakdown in the way intelligence was used,"
says Michele Flournoy of the Center for Strategic and
International Studies. No it's not. Career analysts at the Central
and Defense Intelligence Agencies, furious at Bush for sticking
them with the blame for the weapons scandal, are leaking prewar
memoranda that indicate that the Administration covered up the
spooks' assessments, making the case for war with a pile of lies
constructed on a bedrock of oil-fueled greed.
A September 2002 DIA study said that there was "no reliable
information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical
weapons," but Bush ignored the report--and told us the exact
opposite. After Bush used the discovery of two alleged mobile
weapons labs to claim "we found the weapons of mass
destruction," CIA "dissenters" shot back that Bush had lied about
their reports and that they "doubted the trailers were used to
make germ agents, not[ing] that the plants lacked gear for steam
sterilization, which is typically necessary for making bioweapons."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld parried: "Any indication or
allegation that the intelligence was in any way politicized, of
course, is just false on its face...We haven't found Saddam
Hussein either, but no one's doubting that he was there." Rummy
also floated the CIA-debunked tale of an Iraq-Al Qaeda link.
Both factions are missing the point.
Calling for a full Congressional investigation, Sen. Carl Levin
(D-MI) of the Armed Services Committee, says: "I think that the
nation's credibility is on the line, as well as Bush's." But not even
the discovery of a vast WMD arsenal should save Bush now.
Assuming that one accepts preemption as a legitimate cause for
war--and one ought not--you must possess airtight substantiation
that a nation poses an imminent and significant threat before you
drop bombs on its cities. Evidence that falls short of 100 percent
proof, presented in advance, doesn't pass the pre-empt test.
Bush claimed to have that proof. He said that Iraq could deploy its
biological and chemical weapons with just 45 minutes notice. He
painted gruesome pictures of American cities in ruins, their debris
irradiated by an Iraqi "dirty bomb." It was all a bald-faced lie, and
lying presidents get impeached.
George W. Bush, like Richard Nixon, "endeavor[ed] to misuse
the Central Intelligence Agency." George W. Bush, like Richard
Nixon, "[made] or caus[ed] to be made false or misleading public
statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United
States." (The legalese comes from the first Article of Impeachment
against Nixon, passed by the House Judiciary Committee on July
27, 1974. Faced with certain impeachment in the House and
conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned two weeks later.)
In the words of Bill Clinton's 1998 impeachment, George W.
Bush "has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought
disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President,
and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and
justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."
Nixon and Clinton escaped criminal prosecution for burglary,
perjury and obstruction of justice. George W. Bush, however,
stands accused as the greatest mass murderer in American history.
The Lexington Institute estimates that the U.S. killed between
15,000 and 20,000 Iraqi troops during the fraudulently justified
invasion of Iraq, plus 10,000 to 15,000 wounded. More than 150
U.S. soldiers were killed, plus more than 500 injured. A new
Associated Press study of Iraqi civilian casualties confirms at least
3,240 deaths. Although Bush, Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and
Condoleeza Rice denied such legal niceties to the
concentration-camp inmates captured in their illegal invasions of
Iraq and Afghanistan, these high-ranking Administration
henchmen should be quickly turned over--after impeachment
proceedings for what might properly be called Slaughtergate--to
an international tribunal for prosecution of war crimes.
Anything less would be anti-American.
(Ted Rall is the author of "Gas War: The Truth Behind the
American Occupation of Afghanistan," an analysis of the
underreported Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project and the real
motivations behind the war on terrorism. Ordering information is
available at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.)
COPYRIGHT 2003 TED RALL
RALL 6/10/03 http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/