Actually Bush Didn’t Lie, or so claims right-wing spinmeister Dinesh D’Souza.
Two leftist organizations have released a study that claims that the Bush administration lied about Iraq. Somehow I think we’ve heard that one before.
And of course, if people have known since 2002 that Bush was not telling the truth about Saddam’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction,” why, that must mean we’ve already debunked the people who were saying so. Yeah, that’s it, we’ve heard this one before, so it’s OK to ignore. We’ll just assume that it’s been dealt with.
But consider this: If Bush actually knew that Iraq didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction, and yet repeatedly told the American people that Iraq had them, didn’t Bush expect that following the Iraq invasion his deception would be found out?
I have yet to see any evidence that the Bush administration gave any serious thought at all to the real-world consequences of Mr. Bush’s hell-bent drive to conquest. Asking whether Bush wouldn’t have expected to be found out after the invasion is like asking a horny teenager if she didn’t expect to get pregnant from having unprotected sex. Bush’s short-sightedness and failure to consider the consequences are why we are still stuck in a quagmire in Iraq almost 5 years after he blithely declared the mission to be “accomplished.”
If Bush knew anything, it was that being found out wouldn’t matter. He knew he could count on his right-wing, Christian support base to back him up no matter what the facts were. And in that much, at least, he managed to get something right—as D’Souza himself demonstrates.
D’Souza’s version of history would have us believe that Bush was simply making the best decision he could given the intelligence he had at his disposal, just as FDR did when he decided to start the atomic bomb project out of a fear that the Nazi’s might build one first. It turns out that the Nazi’s didn’t really have an atomic bomb, though they were indeed trying to build one, and therefore (according to D’Souza) it makes the situation analogous to Bush’s rush to invade Iraq.
But no one goes around saying, “Einstein lied” or “FDR lied.” They didn’t lie. They used the information they had to make a tough decision in a very dangerous situation.
The difference, of course, is that FDR used all the information and arrived at a careful, reasonably objective decision, whereas it has been fairly well documented that the Bush administration cherry-picked its “intel,” assigned inappropriate confidence to a highly questionable source, and retaliated against those (Plame) whose family members returned intel that cast doubts on the administration’s claims, all the while more experienced members of the intelligence community were trying to get the administration to acknowledge that things weren’t as cut-and-dried as he claimed.
To those leftist pundits who say, “Knowing what we know now, President Bush, why did you do what you did then?” Bush’s answer is, “Obviously I didn’t know what we know now.”
Isn’t the president lucky that he’s got Dinesh D’Souza to put words in his mouth for him? In other words, “The buck stops, um, over there in the intel community, somewhere. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault.” But the President clearly did know, or at least had access to information which should have told him, that Iraq had been under embargo since the 1990’s, that its imports and exports were highly scrutinized, that the resources available to Saddam were materially inconsistent with him being able to threaten the United States with a “mushroom cloud.” He knew that there was no information linking Saddam to Al Qaeda in any significant way. He knew that the only real “evidence” he had against Saddam was that Saddam was “evil,” and therefore if he denied having WMD’s, that must mean he had WMD’s.
He knew that his invasion of Iraq was an unprovoked attack against an already-defeated and helpless enemy.
What we’re talking about here is a reckless disregard for the truth, under circumstances that ended up overthrowing another sovereign nation, and causing uncounted loss of human life, violent (and ongoing) disruption of society for millions of innocent people, and a very costly and pointless war that not only is difficult to extricate ourselves from, but that also saps our ability to deal with other, more genuine problems like the Taliban. It really matters very little whether Bush’s false statements were bald-faced, intentional lies or whether they were merely criminally incompetent and negligent. Our born-again, God-fearing president had a chance to listen to the informed and experienced professionals who tried to warn him, and he chose to brand them as terrorist-sympathizers instead of heeding their good advice. Morally and ethically, at least, he is fully responsible for the consequences of his deliberate choices, and no amount of toadying by D’Souza and his ilk can absolve him of it.