Thursday, August 05, 2004

Back to Lying

Ok, how many of you have ever evacuated a building where there was a bomb threat?

When your employer, supervisor, school principal, or police department gets intelligence -- information leading them to believe there is a threat, they evacuate the building. When no bomb is found and they let you back in, you don't go to them and say "you lied to us!"

Granted, it's not exactly the same, but it illustrates a point. Based on what the people in authority know, they have to make a decision based on a potential danger.

Let's remember most of the world intelligence agencies believed before the war that Saddam had and/or was working on chemical, biological, and possibly nuclear weapons.

That's a fact. It's not something Bush or Rumsfeld or Tenet made up.

So here's what the assesment was at the time:

Here we have a guy who
  • thought nothing of invading another country by surprise to take it for his own
  • we have a guy who has used chemical weapons on thousands of Iraqis he didn't like
  • tried to assasinate an American President
  • cheered when 3,000 people were killed by al-Quaeda in the USA on 9/11/2001
  • thought nothing of killing his opponents even if they were family
  • was publicly flouting conditions of surrender in the 1991 war (for 11 years)
  • was publicly flouting various UN resolutions from inspections to embargos
  • shooting at our planes practically daily as we and the British tried to enforce what the UN had called for (on our own and at our expense)

And that's what the public knew. Bush and Clinton and Blair knew more. Far more than we even know today.

For years we had intelligence on Bin Laden and knew what his desires were and he even acted some of them out, but we made no serious efforts to stop him. Many years before Bush. What 9/11 did was to point out that some people were willing to do things that were previously unthinkable to harm us. They didn't do it to Bush because they hated Bush. They did it to the US because they hated the US.

Note that I'm not trying to blame Clinton, here. I'm pointing out the absolute ridiculousness of anyone claiming that the world hates us because of Bush.

  • the famous "Blackhawk Down" incident under Somalia happened under Clinton (1993)
  • the triple bombing of US Embassies in Africa happened under Clinton (1998)
  • the bombing of a US Military barracks in Saudi Arabia happened under Clinton (1996)
  • The USS Cole happened under Clinton (2000)
  • The first bombing of the world Trade Center happened under Clinton (1993)
  • The planning for 9/11 happened under Clinton (1999-2001)

One of the big criticisms about 9/11 was that "we should have known", followed by "we should have stopped it". The facts are, we knew he wanted to, but didn't know how he'd try. We knew he wanted to for a very long time, and did basically nothing to stop him.

We also knew Saddam Hussein's nature, and we knew it for a long time. We knew he had chemical and biological weapons, and we knew it for a long time. While trying to ensure that he got rid of them all after the 1991 war, he dragged his feed, obstructed, and finally refused to cooperate with the UN and kicked the inspectors out.

The public knew this. This wasn't top secret information. It was on CNN, in the New York Times, the Chicago Daily Tribune, on the BBC, and in Pravda. Even your local small town newspaper. Even during the Clinton years, so don't go down the "Bush was lying to the press" road.

Intelligence agencies around the world knew more. That's their job. And due to the nature of their job, they can't tell us all they knew. Yes, that secrecy could be used as cover for abuse, but you really can't have it both ways.

Anyway, basically, the US decided that it did not want to wait and see if Saddam had a plan and how he might execute it. Truthfully, we weren't worried about scud missiles. We were worried about him putting his stuff in the hands of people who would sneak it over here, or to Europe, or to our embassies and kill thousands, maybe millions of civillans with it.

Bush decided that 11 years was enough pussyfooting around with this guy. The UN wouldn't deal with him. They left us to do their dirtywork, and we got shot at every day for it. Folks, we could have invaded for that alone.

Bush tried to get some swift and decisive action out of the UN and failed -- because the UN isn't about action. That delay may very well be exactly why no WMD has been found. Saddam had about 4 months to hide, dispose of, export, hand to terrorists --- whatever. He knew he couldn't win the war. The thing he could do to damage the US the most would be to have no WMD to be found after the invasion. Don't get me wrong, he also tried to use the UN to keep us from coming at all. He would have preferred to stay in power and probably hoped against hope that he would. Even if he didn't have any WMD anymore, he was doing his best to obfuscate that fact. What was the world to think?

So Bush did what he, with more knowledge than the public as discussed above, thought he had to do. He had a lot of support from world intelligence agencies, and the governments of many countries.

A few prominent European countries (with economic ties to Iraq and grudges against the United States) held the UN hostage -- but that can happen in the UN. Bush decided to do what he though was right even though he knew there was a huge political risk.


To make his friends rich? Because God told him to? To "get the oil"? Because Saddam tried to kill his dad? Because he's a big meanie? I just don't buy it. The best explanation is that the information he had told him it was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, as I've mentioned before on this blog, there are a lot of people in this country still bitter about the 2000 election.

Some of the information that Bush based the invasion on has not been proven to be true. (Keep in mind it has not been proven to be false, either, it just appears much less likely at the moment). If you make a time-dependent decision on the best information you have, and some of that information turns out not to be true -- it doesn't mean you didn't do the right thing.

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