Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bush Tries To Evade Responsibility For War, Blames Intelligence

In a recent interview with Charles Gibson, George Bush tried to evade responsibility for the war in Iraq. We've heard it before. It's the fault of intelligence:

Bush: The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq. A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said, you know … the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn’t just people in my administration, and um … You know, that’s not a do-over, but I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess.

Gibson: If the intelligence had been right, would there have been an Iraq war?

Bush: If he had had weapons of mass destruction, would there have been a war? Absolutely.

Gibson: No, if you had known he didn’t.

Bush: Oh, I see what you’re saying. Uh … You know, that’s an interesting question. That is a do-over I can’t do. It’s hard for me to speculate.

So Bush can't even definitively say that the absence of WMD would have stopped him from the path of war. That's because he ultimately wanted this war no matter what, as is clear from several sources:

1. The Downing Street Memo, Washington Post, (5/13/08): Seven months before the invasion of Iraq, the head of British foreign intelligence reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that President Bush wanted to topple Saddam Hussein by military action and warned that in Washington intelligence was "being fixed around the policy," according to notes of a July 23, 2002, meeting with Blair at No. 10 Downing Street.

2. The Senate Intelligence Committee, New York Times (6/6/08): The report shows that there was no intelligence to support the two most frightening claims Mr. Bush and his vice president used to sell the war: that Iraq was actively developing nuclear weapons and had longstanding ties to terrorist groups. It seems clear that the president and his team knew that that was not true, or should have known it — if they had not ignored dissenting views and telegraphed what answers they were looking for.

3. From "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War On Terror," by Richard A. Clarke, former member of the National Security Council Staff:

"Look," [Bush] told us, "I know you have a lot to do and all...but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way..."

I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. "But Mr. President, al Qaeda did this."

"I know, I know but...see if Saddam was involved. Just look. I want to know any shred..."

An examination of these and other sources shows that Bush was set on the war in Iraq. It proved to be a war without justification, one in which thousands of Americans and Iraqis were killed, wounded and tortured. The war also went a long way in causing the economic difficulties we're now facing. Bush wanted the war, but he doesn't want the consequences and the obvious conclusions. He hyped the intelligence, but now he's blaming the intelligence. History will not allow him these evasions.

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