"Dedicated to exposing the lies and impeachable offenses of George W. Bush"


Revelations of no WMDs in Iraq show deception, incompetence at work
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 12, 2006

History will show that the U.S. government terrified its own citizens into supporting the invasion of Iraq.

Time and again, Americans already shaky in the wake of Sept. 11 were warned by their leaders that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and that unless we intervened, the Iraqi leader might provide those weapons to his allies in al-Qaida.

If we waited to take action, President Bush warned, the smoking gun might come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

We now know, of course, that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no programs to create them. Last fall, the CIA apparently concluded that there had also been no pre-war ties between Saddam and al-Qaida terrorists, a finding seconded by a report from the Senate Intelligence Committee made public just last week. The committee found that the Bush administration had good reason to know that no such ties existed, but persisted in those claims anyway.

The administration responded to that finding in typical fashion, with White House spokesman Tony Snow dismissing the report as old news. What we need to do is look forward, not backward, Snow argued last week.

There's some truth to that, of course. The news out of both Iraq and Afghanistan is increasingly glum, and as Snow suggests, we can't allow ourselves to be distracted by meaningless debates about the past.

However, questions about the honesty, wisdom, judgment and competence of our current leadership are far from meaningless. We are not debating the relative merits of Thomas Jefferson vs. John Adams; we are attempting to decide whether our current leaders can be trusted to handle the challenges we face.

It matters, for instance, that Vice President Dick Cheney now says that the Bush administration would have invaded Iraq even if it had known that Saddam had no WMD and no ties to al-Qaida. Intrigued by the admission on "Meet the Press" Sunday, host Tim Russert pressed the point with Cheney:

"So if the CIA said to you [in 2003] 'Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction, his chemical and biological have been degraded, he has no nuclear program under way,' you'd still have invaded Iraq?"

Yes, Cheney said.

In other words, Iraqi WMD weren't the reason we went to war, they were merely the excuse that Cheney and his colleagues needed to scare up public support. That's a relevant piece of information as Americans try to decide how much faith they can put in this administration.

Last week, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid gave his fellow Americans another relevent piece of data concerning the basic competence of the Bush administration.

Scheid, who is about to retire, was a colonel with U.S. Central Command in 2002, helping to plan the invasion of Iraq. According to Scheid, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld banned Pentagon officials from planning for a post-war military occupation, to the point that he warned officers that "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need to prepare for an occupation.

The incompetence that reveals is mind-numbing, and is no doubt responsible for the unnecessary deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of U.S. soldiers, in addition to tens of thousands of Iraqis. And it matters — it matters very much — that the people responsible for such blunders are still in power, still making decisions and still setting policy.

— Jay Bookman, for the editorial board (jbookman@ajc.com)

Original Text