Editorials

Iraq: War rationale turns squishy

CASE CLOSED?

Is the president of the United States a liar? Did he knowingly give false information in urging the nation into war? So far, that hasn’t been proven. He chose his words carefully enough to avoid that trap.

The Bush Administration last week backed off its claim about Saddam Hussein and the purchase of uranium from an African nation. Two days later some cabinet members reversed course and said that it was, in fact, solid information. As Donald Rumsfeld put it, “It was technically accurate.”

After all, the President included it in his State of the Union address, but he was careful not to use his own intelligence agency as a source. The CIA knew 11 months earlier that the claim held no water.

Instead, he said the information came from British sources. That was still an “honest” claim to make since American intelligence was unsuccessful in persuading the British to remove it from their policy papers.

So far, the President has escaped the lie. Instead, he’s been caught in his first big deceit in the rush to war. No problem. He simply blamed the flap on his CIA director, then stated the case was closed and he was moving on.

That’s one way to own up to the deception, but it’s not acceptable to everyone. Many people want to know how else they were duped into supporting a war against Iraq.

The Iraq/al-Qaida connection? The aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons? The vast stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons left over from the first Gulf War? The failure of previous weapons inspection efforts?

The uranium purchase was but one of several reasons given for war, but will Washington slowly back off from the others, also?

More than 200 U.S. soldiers dead. Thousands of Iraqis killed and maimed. Nearly $70 billion spent so far and an estimated sustaining cost of $3.9 billion a month for who knows how long. Gen. Tommy Franks stated last week that an American presence is likely in Iraq for the next four years. Others in Washington aren’t that optimistic.

For the President it seems to be so easy. Case closed.

Moving on.

    - DGG, July 16, 2003